Saturday, February 28, 2015

Crafty Blog Surfin' : A New Snow-Day Guilty Pleasure

By: Annie Chamovitz

From: The Cumberland Creek Mystery Series
Author: Mollie Cox Bryan
Book 4 Title: A Crafty Christmas 

I don’t know about you, but here in Virginia, we are all sick of the snow. It’s not just the school cancellations, but other events have gotten cancelled—and it’s just plain difficult to get out for groceries and other items that you might need. Enough, already! 

Thank goodness that I don’t have to entertain my boys 24/7 anymore. They are getting older and enjoy alone time, for which I’m grateful. We’ve tried to instill that in our boys by not over scheduling them –like so many of their friends are. You only get one childhood. They need time to be bored, right?

Since nothing is happening in Cumberland Creek because we are pretty much snowbound,  I’m at home, too. I’ve cleaned and sorted so much that I simply can’t do it anymore. I’ve been catching up on some reading, plus I’ve discovered a new guilty pleasure—craft blogs. Ohmigoodness. These craft blogs make it look so easy to make a pom-pom rug, or a birdhouse, or a handbag out of an old sweater.  Plus they make life look so manageable and beautiful in the mean time. As long as I really don’t hold myself to their standards, I’m fine. The minute I do, I start to feel pretty inadequate. But I tend keep them in my fantasy world. There’s no way I’d ever really have the time to become a hardcore crafter—or even really much of a crafter at all. (Except for now, snowed in, but with NO craft supplies. Imagine that.) My job, kids, house, and scrapbooking keep me occupied.
If you find yourself in a similar situation, snowbound and dreaming, check out some of these fabulous crafty blogs to drool over.

A Beautiful Mess is really more than a craft blog. It’s a lifestyle blog with a great craft section.

I love Crafty Chica. She has great tutuorials.

I first found Shimelle Laine as a scrapbooker. She is absuloutely fabulous. She has some great tutorials, as well. I love her approach to scrapbooking.

The Red Thread is definitely drool worthy. It’s joining forced with another popular craft blog and will soon be gone. I’m a sucker for free those prinatables on their site.  But for now it’s still there and you can scroll and scroll and scroll. You get the picture.

I love Poppy Talk—all I can say is any craft blog that includes a rose-hibiscus body butter recipe is a-okay with me.

Check out Mollie Cox Bryan online:
Twitter: @MollieCoxBryan

Friday, February 27, 2015

Just a pinch of murder! ASSAULT AND PEPPER #bookgiveaway

By Sandra Piniella from the Spice Shop Mysteries by Leslie Budewitz

ASSAULT AND PEPPER, coming March 3, 2015!

I will tell you, I was not sure what to think when Jane told us she'd found a buyer for the Seattle Spice Shop. I knew the place was in trouble, and Jane, who founded it forty years ago when the Pike Place Market barely escaped the wrecking ball of urban removal, was ready to retire. But, seriously, a woman who spent her whole career bossing secretaries—I know, she calls it HR, but that’s just fancy initials—in a law firm that exploded in one of the biggest scandals Seattle’s ever seen, and she thinks she run a spice shop just because she’s named Pepper? (That can’t be her real name, but she won’t ‘fess up, and I haven’t found any paperwork to spill the secrets. I keep looking.)

There’s more to running this place than you might think. We don’t pre-package our spices—we sell everything fresh. So you come in with a list or a recipe, we’ve got to haul down those big jars or canisters off the shelf, weigh out your order, keeping it all straight—Spanish paprika may look a lot like the Hungarian stuff to you, but I know better, and ring it up. Keep those jars filled and on the shelves in the right place. Keep track of everything we need for blending our spice tea—you would not believe how much of that we sell, or how many sample cups we go through in a day. It’s Jane’s custom blend, and it made this shop. This Pepper gal better not think she’s going to change that, because she’ll have another think coming—believe you me.

We sell more than spices and tea. There’s books, and tea mugs, and pots and infusers and strainers and all kinds of other falderal. Spice grinders, shakers, salt cellars. This isn’t as easy as it looks.
I haven’t even mentioned the other employees. That Tory, she’s a peach, but keeping good people is no piece of cake. The Pike Place Market is wild and wooly, and some folks just can’t handle it.
Me, I’m not going anywhere. If this Pepper Reece wants to run this place the way it should be, she better be prepared to treat me right and do what I tell her.

And if that sounds like a threat, it’s not. It’s a promise.

What advice do you have for a long-time employee of a retail shop, anxious about a new boss?

Leave a comment and your email address by midnight Saturday, February 28 to be entered for a chance to win a signed copy of ASSAULT AND PEPPER!

#bookgiveaway #mystery #cozy mystery 

Leslie Budewitz is the national best-selling author of DEATH AL DENTE, first in the Food Lovers' Village Mysteries set in northwest Montana, and winner of the 2013 Agatha Award for Best First Novel, and the sequel, CRIME RIB (2014), from Berkley Prime Crime. ASSAULT & PEPPER, first in her Seattle Spice Shop Mysteries will debut in March 2015.

Leslie is the e first author to win Agatha Awards for both fiction and nonfiction. For more tales of life in the wilds of northwest Montana, and bonus recipes, visit her website and subscribe to her newsletter.   Find her on Facebook or Twitter

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Winter in Cranberry Cove

by Monica Albertson
From Peg Cochran's Cranberry Cove Series

Winter has come to Cranberry Cove and Sassamanash Farm.  I loved all the colors of autumn and the brilliant reds and pinks of the cranberries in the bog, but winter has its own charms.  The pastel colored shops on Beach Hollow Road are dusted with snow creating a fairy tale effect, and the waves on Lake Michigan are stilled and frozen into spectacular shapes.

My half-brother Jeff, who owns the farm, has flooded the bogs to keep the vines warm.  I know, that sounds contradictory, doesn’t it?  But the water turning to ice creates heat and protects the vines.  He will be sanding the bogs as soon as the ice is thick enough—it needs to be a good two to three inches.  The sand will sift onto the vines as the ice melts.  It helps to kill insects and keep the weeds down when spring comes.

I’m enjoying life in Cranberry Cove.  I’ve joined the book club at Book ‘Em that Greg Harper started.  He’s the owner of the store and even though he’s often as disheveled as his stock—his hair tousled and dog hair on his sweater—I find him very attractive.  We’re not actually dating, but we’ve spent time together which I’ve enjoyed greatly.  We’ve both lost someone so we are taking our time getting to know each other.

Time for me to get baking!  I make cranberry scones, breads, muffins, coffee cakes and salsa for the Sassamansh Farm store.  Talk to you soon!

Available for pre-order at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Seeing Things

By Leslie Walker, from the Relatively Dead Series by Sheila Connolly

I think I made a mistake.

I run an historical museum in Concord, Massachusetts—where, as you can guess, there’s a lot of history. Less than I year ago I hired Abby Kimball to run our school education program. It was kind of spur-of-the-moment—the former education director left suddenly, and Abby came with a strong recommendation from a guy I used to date, Ned Newhall. Well, all right, who I almost married. We parted ways amicably, and I do trust his judgment.

I even found Abby a place to stay temporarily, house-sitting for some friends of mine, while she got sorted out after breaking up with her ex, the one who dragged her to Massachusetts in the first place.

I was even okay with it when she started seeing Ned, practically gave her my blessing. He’s a great guy and I want him to be happy.

And then things got weird. During one of those school breaks that drive working parents crazy, I had to ask Abby to keep an eye on my daughter Ellie, who’s seven. I know—not appropriate in the workplace, but I was desperate. Abby didn’t mind—she likes working with kids, since she ran the children’s programs for the museum. At lunchtime they took a walk in Concord and ended up in a nearby cemetery (there are times when I don’t quite get Ellie’s idea of fun—the cemetery was her pick, not Abby’s).

And that’s where things fell apart. Ellie comes back and tells me that she sees ghosts, and she’s been seeing them for a while but was kind of afraid to say anything to me. Abby encouraged her to talk to me, which was the right thing to do, even if I didn’t want to hear what Ellie had to say. But I got scared—and mad. And I fired Abby.

Okay, that wasn’t fair. It’s been a couple of months now, and the more I talk to Ellie, and watch her, and listen to her, I realize that maybe there’s something going on with her that I don’t understand—but Abby does, because she sees the same people (or former people or non-people, or whatever they are). Now Ellie is insisting that she wants to see Abby again, and while I may not like it, I do understand why. That means I’m going to have to eat crow and let Abby back into our lives, much as I hate to do it, while we figure things out. For Ellie’s sake.

If you want to know what happens next, there will be another book in the Relatively Dead series shortly (but it doesn't have a name yet!). Abby and Ellie are going to explore what really happened at Salem in 1692.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The Trouble With Kittens

by Spunky, the mighty Yorkshire terrier, protector of The Gingerbread House.
You can visit me and my humans in Cookies and Scream, our latest sleuthing adventure.

The problem with kittens is they grow up to be cats. Really, I’ve seen it happen.

Cats, as you probably know, are unpredictable creatures with nasty claws that never seem to get clipped like mine do. Cats can jump on you from way up high, and they never have to wear leashes. Also, they hiss. Hissing really isn’t attractive, especially compared to a good, strong bark.

Plus, cats are usually bigger than I am. I weigh five pounds. I’m all muscle, of course, but still…

I suppose you’re wondering why I’ve brought up the unpleasant subject of cats? Because my human, Livie, and her friend, Maddie—who also belongs to me, of course—have decided to get a kitten for Maddie’s Aunt Sadie. Aunt Sadie has the warmest, softest lap, and it belongs to me. Livie and Maddie already have the feline creature picked out, so there isn’t much time to stop this fiasco.

I need to convince Livie and Maddie that a kitten is a bad idea. They should get a puppy instead. I prefer a Labrador puppy because my best friend, who moved away, was a huge black Lab. His name was Buddy. We used to have so much fun together. He would escape from his owner, Chatterley Heights’ former deputy sheriff, and get into all kinds of interesting… but never mind all that.

I’ll admit, Labs do get pretty big, but it’s okay when dogs grow big. Dogs protect their humans. My human is always getting herself into trouble, and I have to rescue her. Aunt Sadie is in a wheelchair. What if she falls and needs help? What’s a cat going to do, bring her a mouse?

I miss Buddy a lot. He was really fun and a loyal friend. If Aunt Sadie got a puppy, I could give her pointers on how to raise it. And I’d have a playmate again. As far as I can tell, cats just sit around all day cleaning themselves.

But nobody listens to me, no matter how hard I yap. I am doomed. I’ll never again get to cuddle on Aunt Sadie’s warm, soft lap. Don’t get me wrong, I love my human, Livie. She takes me on walks and feeds me and gives me treats. She gave me my own special chair on the sales floor of The Gingerbread House. But I want a dog friend and Aunt Sadie, too.

I don’t suppose you’d be willing to visit Chatterley Heights and adopt that kitten, would you? Otherwise, what am I to do?



Monday, February 23, 2015

Snow Day in Blue Plum!

by Kath Rutledge from 
The Haunted Yarn shop Mysteries

Don’t you agree it’s about time that spring showed its face? For pity’s sake, it was ten below zero here yesterday morning. Ten below in Blue Plum, Tennessee, and there’s two feet of snow on the ground! Brrrrr! The whole town had a snow day. I thought I’d left this kind of winter nonsense behind in central Illinois. But, then, who doesn’t love a snow day? (Well, maybe not the folks who’ve had a dozen or more this year.)

So, what did everyone do with the unexpected day off? I called around to find out – and wasn’t terribly surprised. Mel had dough for rosemary raisin bread rising. Thea was doing word puzzles. Ardis was knitting a hat and scarf. Joe was painting a small watercolor and dreaming of fishing weather.

Cold as it was, I hiked through the drifts to the Weaver’s Cat to make sure Argyle had plenty of food and water – and to see what Geneva thought of the snow. Cat and ghost were both happy to see me. Argyle left a circle of orange fur around my ankles. Geneva was glad for the company, and glad for a day that I could spend with her in the snug study up in the attic, uninterrupted by customers.

We sat in the window seat with Argyle, listening to an audio book, and I finished a piece of embroidery – a picture of Argyle with a quotation from Mark Twain, “A house without a cat, and a well-fed, well-pampered, and properly revered cat, may be a proper house, perhaps, but how can it prove its title?”

Ardis just called – she wants to give away the hat and scarf she knit! They’re soft and a lovely cherry red. The color alone will keep you warm on these bitter cold days. Leave a comment telling how you’d like to spend an unexpected day off and Ardis will choose a name at random to win the hat and scarf.

The award-winning, national-bestselling Haunted Yarn Shop Mysteries are available in mass market, e-book, large print, and audio wherever books are sold.

Visit Molly MacRae on Facebook and Pinterest, or find her the first Monday of each month at Vintage Cookbooks and Crafts

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Anywhere But Here

By: Dani Greene
Author: Jessie Crockett
Series: The Sugar Grove Mysteries

Generally, I love living in New Hampshire. The scenery, the pace of life, the beautiful architecture are all so endearing. But this winter the snow has been overwhelming. The lower windows of the farmhouse here at Greener Pastures are completely blocked by snow. Icicles are hanging so low they touch the tops of the snowbanks. The winter's  been so intense here we've even had pheasants at the bird feeders.

I feel restless and like I want to head off to anywhere but here. I think the fact that my mother is off on a Caribbean cruise is only intensifying the feeling. Whenever she calls from a deck chair aboard ship I feel an overwhelming desire to run off to somewhere sunny and warm. Somewhere with palm trees and brightly colored birds.. Some place where I can slip into a bikini rather than long johns and a wooly hat.

Adding insult to injury is all the trouble that has been brewing while my mother's been gone. I've been using the months before sugaring season starts to form an agricultural cooperative with my fellow sugar makers. Unfortunately, even with all the snow, someone has managed to run around sabotaging the sugarhouses owned by many participants of the co-op. With all that's been going on even without the bad weather I would feel like fleeing.

But, I have responsibilities here in Sugar Grove. Even though it feels like spring will never arrive sugaring season is only a few weeks away. So for now I'll have to content myself with bulky sweaters, steaming cups of hot chocolate and binge watching of movies set in warmer climes.

Readers, is the winter making you wish you were anywhere but wherever you are?

Jessie loves to connect with readers on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.