Wicked Wednesday- Halloween Parties

Jessie: In NH, beetling away on cozy knitting projects.

I have been thinking about Halloween a lot more than usual lately since the first ofhalloween-1805457_1920 my Beryl and Edwina books releases that day. And book launches make me think about parties. Naturally, I started thinking about Halloween parties. So, Wickeds, tell us about a memorable Halloween Party. One you attended, one you hosted, one that you thought required a costume yet no one else wore one.

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Edith: I LOVE Halloween and costumes. I used to throw a big costume party every year. I sewed a darling flannel tiger costume (complete with tail, of course) for my first-born when he was a toddler. A few years ago a friend invited me to a party that had a high school prom theme. So of course I had to pick up a prom dress at the local thrift store, dust off my black wig and my glasses from eighth grade, dig out the white gloves from the costume box, and head to school! Do you think I should have won the Homecoming Queen’s crown? Two friends came as the teacher-chaperones, except they had switched genders. The whole evening was so much fun.

Liz: I went to college in Salem, Mass., and the entire month of October was one big Halloween party! On any given day, people were wandering around town in costumes, visiting local witch Laurie Cabot’s store and getting tarot readings. Halloween night itself was insane…the entire downtown area was a costume party and non-stop parade. For a Halloween junkie like me, it was like being in heaven!

Sherry: I always loved dressing up. One year at college I found two fifties dresses at a thrift shop and my friend and I went as Laverne and Shirley. The party isn’t that memorable, but when we were walking home someone started throwing eggs at us. We ran screaming down the street in our heels. Fortunately, they had terrible aim and didn’t hit us.

Jessie: We live next door to the local library and for many years I served as a volunteer there. One year I helped out with the Halloween party by making the food. For some reason I decided to create cream puff monsters. I seem to remember making sixty of them each with candy eyes and licorice legs. I couldn’t bring myself to make cream puffs for months afterwards! But the kids had a great time!

Readers: Share your Halloween memory – good or bad!

Wicked Wednesday- Favorite Halloween Candy

Jessie: In NH where the foliage is beautiful it breaks the heart.

pick-and-mix-171342_1920Everywhere I’ve been in the last couple of weeks, from the pharmacy to the gas station, has had bountiful displays of Halloween candy for sale. So far, I have managed to leave it be. But it has got me to wondering which sort of candy do you each favor? Which ones beg to be tossed into your shopping basket?

Liz: Milk Duds and Tootsie Rolls! Omg, I love them both. So I don’t buy them, even for Halloween, because I know I’ll eat them way before the trick or treaters arrive!

Sherry: I was in the store today and passed the candy row. It was tempting, but I managed to resist! Pretty much anything that is chocolate is what I throw in and pass out — Snickers, Kit Kats, M&Ms…I could go on and on and on. I’ve taken to waiting until the last minute so we don’t eat it prior to the big night.

Jessie: I love candy corn. There, I said it. Candy corn. Or the tiny pumpkins made out out the same sugary, toxic madness as candy corn. When I was a child I loved to put pieces of candy corn on my incisors and pretend I was a vampire. Ok, sometimes I still do…

Edith: (Why am I not surprised, Jessie!) I bought the tiny bags of peanut M&Ms last week – and pretty much assume they’ll be gone by Halloween! I also love Baby Ruth bars, and if I come into contact with candy corn I still have to bite off one color at a time. I swear each color tastes different.

Barb: I love candy corn, too, Jessie! I’m so glad you admitted it. My favorite though is mini-Butterfingers. I don’t buy until the last minute and I hate that neither Bill nor I have an office to send the leftovers to, though our street in Somerville, MA was the “trick or treat street” and there were never any leftovers.

Julie: Count me as another candy corn girl! Love it. Also love Butterfingers. My favorite are Reese’s cups. LOVE. Them. Will admit, I hit target after Halloween to get some sale stuff. Also, the Halloween M&M colors are harvest, so good to get a bag or two for Thanksgiving.

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Wicked Wednesday

Jessie: In New Hampshire, thinking fondly of the sunny shores of St. Petersburg, Florida I enjoyed visiting at this time last week.

Last week I asked which of the household chores facing you left you procrastinating and groaning with despair. Today I’m wondering if there are any particular tasks that you happen to like doing, especially those that other people would rather avoid? Do you polish the silver during times of stress? Enjoy getting that very last cobweb off the ceiling fan? Do you delight in making a grocery list? Do tell!

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Edith: I like cleaning the kitchen counters. We have lovely dark greenish granite, and long expanses of it. I wipe it with a damp dishrag and then polish with a clean dishtowel. It’s exclusively my job, because the person I live with does not SEE crumbs (in the same category as dust for him, I guess,) and his superpower is leaving toast crumbs everywhere…. The counter looks so pretty when it’s clean and polished, and the polishing is meditative, too.

Sherry: The closest thing to tasks that makes me happy would be periodically cleaning out my closet. But the everyday tasks? I like making my bed every day, but anything else? Not so much. My sister likes to iron to relax. I wish I’d gotten that gene. The last time I cleaned out my closet I found a shoe with change and a Swedish fish in it. That was very strange!

Barb: I like the events that mark the seasons: putting away summer clothes and getting out the winter ones, spring and fall cleaning, getting out the holiday decorations and putting them away.

Liz: I really like vacuuming and decluttering. I get a lot of weird pleasure sucking up cat fur. And I’ve really become a fan of throwing things out. Of course, these things are procrastinating techniques too…

Jessie: I actually do like to polish the silver. There is something so satisfying about seeing something tarnished gleaming once again. I also like to make my bed up with clean sheets, a fluffed duvet and a stack of pillows.

Julie: Loading the dishwasher, and shining my sink. Even when the rest of the house is chaos, my sink is shiny. Baby steps!

Readers, do you have any household chores that you secretly love to do? Or at least ones that you find surprisingly satisfying?

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Yea or Nay-Pumpkin Spice

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Jessie: In New Hampshire, shivering under a wool blanket and hoping the furnace is fixed sooner rather than later!

Autumn is well and truly in the air and in the past few years that has come to mean Pumpkin Spice everything. From coffee to air freshners pumpkin spice is the belle of the season.

So, Wickeds, I wondered how each of you feel about it? Do you swoon to see the signs proclaiming it to be available at the local Dunkin Donuts or do you just find it all baffling?

Liz: Next to summer, fall is my absolute favorite season, and it’s mostly because of the pumpkin spice craze. Beginning October 1, I make it my mission to have as many pumpkin-flavored anythings as possible. Although I much prefer Starbucks pumpkin spice lattes over Dunkin Donuts any day….

Sherry: I’m not a fan and don’t rush out to buy everything from M&Ms to Oreos flavored with pumpkin spice. That said I do make an excellent pumpkin spice cake that I’ve been making for about ten years (that predates the craze, right?). It’s so easy — two ingredients a spice cake mix and a can of pumpkin. You mix the two together and bake it at 350 for 25 minutes. It’s low calorie and full of fiber. It doesn’t need frosting because it is so moist.

Jessie: I really dislike tinkering when it comes to my coffee. I like it black and very strong, with no sugar so the idea of gussying it up with dessert flavors just leaves me cold. I guess I don’t really get the whole pumpkin thing unless we happen to be talking about pumpkin squares with cream cheese frosting. Or jack-o-lanterns. But I think I will try baking Sherry’s cake! That sounds intriguing.

Barb: When I rule the world, (not that anyone has asked me to), everything will have a season. In North America, that will mean cider in September and October, pumpkin spice in November, and peppermint hot chocolate in December. No overlapping or rushing the seasons! I do treat myself to a pumpkin spice coffee (or maybe two) and a peppermint hot chocolate, but only in the appropriate month (as decreed by me). (They’ll be a lot more changes when I rule the world, btw.)

Julie: One of my favorite parts of the pumpkin spice craze is how much Liz loves it. Because, seriously, she’s a wicked healthy eater. And yet, she stands in line for her pumpkin spice lattes at Starbucks, which have never seen a real pumpkin. But I digress. I love pumpkin pie, and was surprised that the craze doesn’t taste like that. I can take it or leave it. But eggnog latte season? THAT is my favorite.

Edith: Only in pies! Never in coffee! But I think I’ll try Sherry’s cake, too – except maybe I’ll make the spice cake from scratch and use canned pumpkin for the butter and eggs part.

How about you, dear readers? Fans of the pumpkin spice, or not?

A Barnes & Noble and Kensington Promotion and Sweepstakes!

Posted by Barb, who’s in Milwaukee today

From September 5 to October 5, Barnes & Noble and Kensington have teamed up to offer a special promotion–Buy 3 Kensington cozy mysteries and get 1 free!

But wait, there’s more!

Everyone who buys a Kensington cozy mystery from the B&N in-store display or any Kensington cozy mystery from BarnesandNoble.com between 9/5/17 – 10/5/17 and registers their purchase at http://sites.kensingtonbooks.com/kensingtoncozies/BN/ will:

  • Automatically be entered into Kensington’s “Cozy Mystery Bonanza” sweepstakes for a chance to win a $300 value gift basket. One grand prize winner will be selected after the sale has concluded.
  • Automatically receive a free Kensington Cozies recipe booklet plus a download code for the novel A STORY TO KILL by Lynn Cahoon after the sale has concluded.

But wait, there’s even more!

There’s a special end-of-the-aisle display featuring Kensington cozies at every B&N. Sherry Harris, Maddie Day (aka Edith Maxwell), and Barbara Ross all have their latest mysteries on the shelf!

We thought it would be fun for some of the Wickeds to get their photos taken with this special display.

Here we are!

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Edith at the Newington, NH B&N

Edith: My closest B&N is in New Hampshire, and when I asked an employee where mystery section was, she led me to the cozies. I pointed to When the Grits Hit the Fan, said it was my book, and asked if she would take my picture. But the end cap was so close to a perpendicular row she couldn’t get back far enough to snap the whole thing!

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Look for this sign on the end cap

Sherry: I stopped by my local Barnes and Noble In Fairfax, Virginia where I’ve celebrated the release of all four of the Sarah Winston Garage Sale mysteries.

Sherry in Fairfax, VA

Here’s a closer look at the books!

All the books

Barb: I stopped at the B&N in Peabody, Massachusetts on my way from Boothbay Harbor, Maine to Logan Airport.

Barb in Peabody, MA

As with Edith, we couldn’t get far enough back from the display to get the whole display, so I’m glad Sherry did.

The Wicked’s books

If the display is a success for B&N and Kensington, they’ll repeat. Since all the Wickeds will have Kensington books soon, we hope it goes on and on.

Readers: Take advantage of the special if you can and don’t forget to register your purchase for a chance to win the gift basket, short story, and recipes!

Tell us if you spied this end cap in your local B&N, and where it is. We’d love to see a pic of you with the array, too!

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Wicked New England – Outdoor Festivals

Don’t you just love summer and all the outdoor activities? Aside from the beach,   we’re so lucky here in New England to have so many cool outdoor festivals. There really is something for everyone – jazz, seafood, cars, art, lobster, the list goes on. So Wickeds, what kind of festival will you fight the crowds and the heat to attend?

Edith: We went to the Lowell International Folk Festival last Saturday, as we do

The Seamus Egan Project playing Irish

every year. All of downtown Lowell is closed to vehicle traffic. Musical groups from all over the world fill five venues, and dancing is encouraged. International food is served hot, smelling delectable, from Filipino to Cambodian to Portuguese to Greek. And this year it wasn’t 95 degrees, but a comfortable 75. The festival is free!

Julie: Does going to outdoor theater count? I saw Romeo and Juliet on the Boston Common last week. It is Commonwealth Shakespeare’s 22nd show on the Common. Free, and runs through this weekend (Aug 6). I went with friends, my sister, and the nieces. It is a wonderful production, and I was more than happy to be part of a crowd experiencing the show.

Jessie: I don’t really attend festivals usually but I do love Illumination Night in Ocean Park, Maine. It occurs of the first Saturday of August every year and most of the houses in the community are decked out with twinkling lights. It is a magical experience to wander through the pokey little lanes peeping at all the displays and mingling with the crowds.

Liz: I love art festivals. There was one in town a few weeks back, and in addition to the lovely art, there’s always such cool jewelry! You meet such great people, and dogs are welcome so that’s even better. And this weekend, there’s another art festival right on my street, which will be so fun.

Barb: Our town of Boothbay Harbor, Maine has lots of celebrations and festivals. Windjammer Days is the last week in June, when old wooden schooners make a stately appearance in the harbor. The Claw Down in September is a lobster cooking competition and related fun activities. And the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens festival of lights called Gardens Aglow runs through the entire holiday season. We stay pretty busy here.

Windjammer Days, Boothbay Harbor, Maine
Photo by Bill Carito

Sherry: Wow, now I want to go to all of these festivals and activities! And I love the photograph, Barb! Bedford used to have an Apple Festival on the town common that was fun to attend. One year I met the town historian there and he was fascinating! I also love to go to flea markets like the one below!

Readers: Do you have a favorite festival?

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Summer Reads 2017

NEWS FLASH: Meg is the winner of Peg’s book for commenting yesterday. Congratulations, Meg! Peg will be contacting you by email.

It’s full summer in New England – sun-kissed tomatoes, sun-pinked skin from the beach, sunny yellow flowers abloom. So what are we reading, Wickeds and friends? Share your favorite kick-back-and-lose-yourself-in-a-story choices.

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Edith: I have the great honor of being nominated for a Macavity Award, the Sue FederMemorial Award for Best Historical Novel, along with Catriona McPherson, Ann Parker, James Ziskin, Lyndsay Faye, and Susanna Calkins (in no particular order). I’m reading each of their nominated books before I head to Toronto for Bouchercon in October. So far I’ve loved Catriona’s The Reek of Red Herrings and Lynsday’s Jane Steele. Next up is Ann’s What Gold Buys, which I’m eagerly anticipating.

Sherry: I’ve read a lot of great books over the past few weeks. First up was Identity by Ingrid Thoft. I love this series and have to keep myself from binge reading it. Second I was delighted to read my friend Kim Stockley’s YA fantasy A Shattered Moon the first in a trilogy with the concept: There is still an Eden but it’s no longer paradise. I read an early version and loved it even more now. Then I read Razor Girl by Carl Hiaasen. What a plot and full of his usual quirks. I just started Murder with Chicken and Waffles by A.L. Herbert who I met at an event on Saturday. When a book starts with cornbread you know it’s  going to be good.

Liz: I have so many books on my list! I just finished World Gone By by Dennis Lehane, and Spirit Junkie by Gabrielle Bernstein. Next on my list is Reservation Road by John Burnham Schwartz.

Julie: Diane Vallere and I were on a panel together at Malice. She mentioned that she will read through an entire series at a time–both to enjoy and to learn from. With that as an inspiration, and with a vacation coming up, I’ve decided to read Louise Penny’s series. She is a favorite of so many, and I am already glad I’m diving in.

Barb: I feel like a broken record, because I think every time we do this I’m reading William Kent Krueger. However, I am almost caught up to the present. Currently reading Manitou Canyon. Like Julie, I have vacation coming up. I’m planning to bring Paul Doiron’s latest, Knife Creek, and Bruce Robert Coffin’s second novel, Beneath the Depths. And, like every year, the last week in August, I’ll be at Sherman’s in Boothbay Harbor, picking up a copy of Louise Penny’s latest, Glass Houses this year, for my Labor Day weekend reading pleasure.

Jessie: I am currently reading Radha Vatsal’s A Front Page Affair and am enjoying it immensely! I recently finished Cold Comfort by Quentin Bates and Herbie’s Game by Timothy Hallinan. For non-fiction I am savoring Naturalists in Paradise: Wallace, Bates and Spruce in the Amazon by John Hemming.

Readers: Share your summer reads!

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