Wicked Wednesday – Crime Podcasts

NEWS FLASH: Ginny C is the winner of Brooklyn Bones from Triss! Check your email, Ginny.

Happy Wicked Wednesday! A while back, I’d mentioned podcasts in a blog post. One of our readers said they’d love to hear about the Wickeds favorite podcasts – so here we go! This week we’re talking about – what else – our favorite crime podcast. So Wickeds, what’s yours?

Podcasts

Barb: It’s strange to me that though I don’t like true crime on television, I love true crime podcasts. Like many people, I got hooked with season one of NPR’s Serial, which Bill and I listened to in two obsessive days on our annual drive from New England to Key West. Now one of my major favorites is CRIMEandSTUFF created by sisters Maureen and Rebecca Milliken. Mystery author Maureen’s journalism background shines through in this well-researched crime podcast, and both sisters know their popular culture cold. There’s a focus, though not an exclusive one, on New England crime, so I am often hearing much more indepth stories on events I’ve read one or two articles about, or have vaguely heard happened in the past. They’re on summer hiatus now, but there are thirty-one episodes stockpiled for you to enjoy. Totally recommend!

Sherry: I haven’t ever listened to a podcast. I’m always intrigued by the ones I heard about but never get around to listening to them. One day…

Liz: Barb, like you the first Serial hooked me. I’ve been dying for something just as good! I did like S-Town, though I wouldn’t consider that a true “crime” podcast, even though it was an amazing story. I have a whole list of new ones to try though, including Criminal and Missing, which got great reviews.

Edith: Like Sherry, I’m not a podcast convertee. I did sign up with (or is it, downloaded the app for? #mustgetwiththeprogram) a podcast service on my phone, but I only used it once to listen to and episode I’d missed of “Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me,” the NPR news quiz show I adore. I always listen to the show on Saturdays, so I guess I was utilizing their podcast as an archive.  Like with TV – when would I listen to podcasts? When I walk I listen to birds and talk to myself about my plot. When I drive, it’s either all that news I didn’t catch at home, or on a long-distance solo drive I snag an audiobook from the library.

Readers: do you listen to podcasts? What are your favorites?

Wicked Wednesday – Favorite Murder Method

It’s Wicked Wednesday again! Some of you might remember the time the Wickeds were interviewed for the Boston Globe. One of the questions we were asked was, What’s your favorite murder method? So I thought it would be fun to revisit the question and see if any of our answers changed!

So Wickeds, what’s your favorite way to off someone?

Julie: I am old school. I like poison. I find it fascinating, unexpected, a bit passive aggressive, and confounding.

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Barb: I don’t think I have a favorite murder method. I remember being flummoxed by the question from the Globe. But for the Maine Clambake Mysteries, I like to tie the murder weapon to the subject of the books. I used the clambake fire in Boiled Over, and the victim gets tangled in the lines under a lobster boat in Musseled Out. There’s another murder weapon like that coming up in the seventh Maine Clambake Mystery, Steamed Open, but no spoilers!

Edith: Like Julie, I like poison. I’ve taken inspiration from Luci Zahray, the Poison Lady, a Texan pharmacologist who gives talks to writers about readily available poisons. In recent books I’ve used liquid nicotine (yes, that stuff you put in vaping “cigarettes”) and rosary peas, and worked Tylenol and whiskey into a short story. I blogged about her a few years ago here.

Sherry: I don’t think I really have a favorite method but have had a few of people die by getting whacked on the head. Many of my killers have struck out in anger instead of carefully planning out a murder. It seems to me that is how most murders occur — in a moment of crazed thinking. I love that the murder weapon is on the cover of my first book, Tagged for Death.

Jessie: No question, blugdeoning. It allows for endless creativity of improvised weaponry and it makes it far more possible for a wide range of suspects to have done the deed as it requires no specialized knowledge and often uses heft and momentum to aid smaller killers in going about their tasks It’s a total win in my book. Or books!

Liz: I continue to be fascinated by poison, but like Barb, it depends on the book and the victim. And, of course, the killer. I have to say, I did like the method I used in my second book, A Biscuit, A Casket – a nice scythe to the chest!

Readers, do you have a favorite murder method? Tell us in the comments!

Of Cats and Cafés

Dianne Mossor you are the winner of the books and tote bag! Watch for an email — Julie and Liz will need your contact information!

Today we are wicked happy to continue celebrating the release of Chime and Punishment by Julianne Holmes, aka Julie Hennrikus and Cat About Town by Cate Conte, aka Liz Mugavero. If you leave a comment you have a chance to Win a copy of Chime and Punishment, Cat About Town, and a cute cat bag!

Chime and Punishment is the third book in the Clock Shop Mystery series. Here’s a little about the book: Years ago, the serenity of picturesque Orchard, Massachusetts, was shattered by a fire that destroyed the town’s beloved clock tower. Ruth inherited the dream of repairing it from her late grandfather. Now that she’s returned home to run his clock shop, the Cog & Sprocket, she’s determined to make it happen, despite wrenches that are being thrown into the works by her least favorite person, town manager Kim Gray.

A crowd of residents and visitors are excited to see the progress of the tower at a fund-raiser for the campaign, until Kim is found crushed under the tower’s bell, putting an end to all the fun. The list of suspects is so long it could be read around the clock, and it includes some of Ruth’s nearest and dearest. Time’s a-wastin’ as Ruth tries to solve another murder in her beloved Orchard while keeping the gears clicking on her dream project.

A Cat About Town is the first novel in the Cat Cafe Mystery series. Here’s a little about the debut: Maddie James has arrived in Daybreak Island, just off the coast of Massachusetts, eager to settle down and start her own business—and maybe even fall in love. When a stray orange tabby pounces into her life, she’s inspired to open a cat café. But little does Maddie know that she’s in for something a lot more catastrophic when her new furry companion finds the dead body of the town bully. Now all eyes are on Maddie: Who is this crazy cat-whisperer lady who’s come to town? If pet-hair-maintenance and crime-fighting weren’t keeping her busy enough, Maddie now has not one but two eligible bachelors who think she’s the cat’s pajamas . . . and will do anything to win her heart. But how can she even think about happily-ever-after while a killer remains on the loose—and on her path?

Both series have cafés and cats in them! So Wickeds, do you have a favorite café and/or a favorite cat?

PrestonChristobel

Christabel behind Preston at Christmas. They often array themselves in matching poses.

Edith: I can’t wait to read both these new books! I don’t go to cafés much, but we have two lovely ones here in Amesbury: Ovedia and Market Square Bakehouse, and I’ve met people at both for coffee and conversation. Ovedia has the added attraction of making their own very fine chocolates! As for cats, well, my sweet Birdy shed his earthly shell in June, alas. Now we have two cats, and I couldn’t possibly play favorites between Christabel (the kitchen cat in the Quaker Midwife Mysteries) and Preston (the farm cat in the Local Foods Mysteries).

Barb: One of the things I’m sorry to leave on my last day in Somerville, Massachusetts, (today!) Is the Diesel Cafe. I wrote many of my first drafts there, particularly of my short stories, but also some of the novels. The funniest thing about the Diesel is that at certain times of day, everyone who is there is writing a book. The Diesel is included in the dedications and acknowledgements of many novels. As for cats, I have to admit I am endlessly amused by my son’s cat, Monkey, who has been trying to murder my son’s wife, Sunny, for almost a decade. Monkey does things like spreading shampoo all over the bathroom floor in the middle of the night and then gently nudging Sunny awake. I find it hilarious. I’m not sure Sunny does.

JJLiz: I love Diesel, Barb! I’m still searching for my favorite cafe in my new neighborhood, but in my old one there was a great coffee shop called Grounded. It’s owned by really great younger people and offers high end coffee drinks in a neighborhood that, a couple years ago, would’ve laughed it right off the street. I have great admiration for them. As for cats, it IS like picking a favorite child! The cat in the book, JJ, is based on my real life cat JJ. Isn’t he handsome?

Julie: I need to go to more cafes just to hang and drink coffee. I don’t do that enough, but will start! There are a good number to choose from–including 1369, Cafe Neros all over town, and the Thinking Cup to name a few. As for favorite cats–how can I choose? I’ve had five in my adult life, the most recent of which are Fred and Ginger. They are rescues who finally are settling into life in my condo. I’m not going to let them read Liz’s book–I worry that they’ll want to start walking me through Somerville.

Jessie: I don’t live near enough to any cafes to have a neighborhood favorite although I have enjoyed plenty of them whilst traveling. On a recent trip to Edinburg I had the pleasure of visiting The Elephant Cafe where J.K. Rowling wrote much of the first Harry Potter book. It was a magical experience, especially the bathroom where fans have covered the walls with messages to Harry’s creator.

Sherry: My favorite cafe is Helen’s in Concord. They have delicious breakfasts. Oh, now I want to fly up to Massachusetts! I’ve had two cats in my life, Snoopy, a Persian and Lucy, a beautiful gray and white. I would love to hang out in the town of Orchard and on Daybreak Island with their cats and cafes!

Readers: Do you have a favorite cafe or cat? Fictional or real?

 

Wicked Wednesday: National Aunts & Uncles Day and National Coffee Milkshake Day

 

Espresso_Coffee_Milkshake

By Rick from San Francisco, USA

Okay kids, it’s the last Wednesday in July, and today is National Aunts & Uncles Day AND National Coffee Milkshake Day! Take it away, Wickeds and readers, in any direction you choose.

Liz: I LOVE anything coffee flavored, as you may have guessed. Coffee ice cream is right at the top of the list. Here’s an awesome recipe for a coffee milkshake (and you can use vanilla-flavored cashew or almond milk instead of regular milk). Enjoy!

Sherry: My closest aunt and uncle aren’t blood but close college friends of my parents. My Aunt Pat and Uncle John were glamorous, generous, and funny. Everyone loved being around them. As for coffee flavored anything, I will pass. I like tea.

Edith: My closest aunt and uncle are/were my aunt Joan and uncle Richard Reinhardt. Jo was my father’s baby sister and Dick her handsome devoted husband. She, always with a tinkling laugh and complete attention on anything you said, passed away a few years ago in her early eighties.

 

Dick, a San Francisco author and intellectual, missed her terribly, but has found a way to carry on, healthy and traveling at ninety with a new companion. Jo and Dick were my role models for a long-lasting relationship fueled by good food, conversation, and affection. My sister Janet has been a fabulous aunt to my sons, too. What a blessing.

As for coffee milkshakes, bring it. Hundreds of miles of solo driving are made possible by chocolate milkshakes with instant coffee stirred in. Try it. You’ll be good until Albuquerque.

Jessie: I live near to my sisters and they, and their spouses, have been wonderful aunts and uncles to my children. I also have been so lucky that my Aunt Pat and Uncle Ted are passionate geneologists and have generously shared so much information, memorabilia and memories. I can’t remember the last time I had any sort of milkshake but perhaps today would be a good dy to try a coffee flavored one!

Julie: I LOVE coffee milkshakes, aka frappes here in New England. It used to be a flavor option at McDonalds (maybe still is at some of them). I don’t drink many frappes these days. I do have an occasional frappachino, though calorie counts at Starbucks gives me pause. As to aunt and uncle day, my favorite role in this world is being Aunt Julie. Truly a blessing on so many levels.

Barb: Aunts and uncles are the best. All children should have adults who are not their parents in their lives. As for milkshakes, I don’t have them often, so when I do, I always go with my favorite–vanilla.

Readers: Share your fave aunt and uncle, and your memorable coffee milkshake!

 

 

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Wicked Wednesday: National Daquiri and Hot Dog Days

Another corny July Wednesday for you. Did you know today was National Daquiri Day AND National Hot Dog Day? Have you ever paired those two? Who has a favorite Daquiri recipe? And how do you take your hot dogs? Dish, Wicked and readers!HotDog

Edith: Here’s a Daquiri recipe from the Food Network.

  • 2 cups crushed ice, plus extra for chilling glass
  • 2 ounces light rum
  • 1-ounce freshly squeezed lime juice, strained of pulp
  • 1/2-ounce Simple Syrup, recipe follows

Liz: I can’t comment on the hot dogs… but I do love daiquiris! I found the best recipe for  a blueberry mint daiquiri on Boulder Locavore. Perfect for summer!

Barb: Let’s see. I love hotdogs. I always have trouble at barbecues with the “burger or dog?” question. I’m also partial to Nathan’s when on the road. Mustard and relish, please. My warm weather drinks are margaritas and mojitos, so not so much on the daquiris.

Jessie: With the exception of caipirinhas, I don’t care for sweet cocktails. I much prefer very dry martinis or Scotch. My husband, however, loves all sorts of sweet drinks that come with umbrellas and fruit garnishes. Whenever we order drinks when we are out the server invariably hands us the other person’s drink. Apparently there is gender attached to beverages.

Edith: Right with you there, Jessie – those fruity drinks taste too good and I forget they’re alcoholic. Give me my maxi-proof  straight up every time. Well, except for caipirinhas, the first mixed drink I ever had. It was in southern Brazil at the tender and untested age of seventeen – and wow!

Barb: That is so funny, Jessie. A few nights ago, after a long day of packing, my husband I and went to a local watering hole. I ordered a bourbon milkshake and Bill ordered a shot and a beer. The server who brought our drinks was not the person who took our order. He approached our table cautiously, took a big, deep breath and gave me the milkshake and Bill the shot and beer. “What if it had been the other way around?” I teased. “I don’t like this gender stereotyping.” We were all laughing by the end.

Daiquiri_drink

Photo by Aaron Gustafson from Hamden, CT, USA (Daiquiri) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Sherry: I don’t have a favorite daiquiri recipe. But one of my favorite places I ever drank one was in Aspen, Colorado. I haven’t been there in years, but loved sitting outside on a lovely summer day watching people pass and looking at the mountains. The air is so fresh there unlike the heavy summer air of the East Coast. I love hot dogs but don’t eat them very often. I like them grilled, slightly burnt, on a bun with as many toppings as possible.

Edith: Sherry, what a lovely setting. And funny , Jessie and Barb, about the gender expectations (or not so funny?). I grew up with fried hot dogs with yellow mustard. Despite a number of years as a vegetarian and recent years as a minimal red-meat consumer — give me a great grilled dog with mustard and I’m yours.

Julie: Not a daiquiri girl. I stick with beer and wine. But I do love hotdogs. Like Barb, Nathan’s on the road. But the best hotdogs? At Fenway Park, naturally. Not sure how they pull it off, but nothing tastes better on a warm summer night. Relish and mustard, please.

Readers: Tell us what you like!

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Wicked Wednesday: National Simplicity and National Pecan Pie Days

Pies

Edith’s 2016 pecan pie (and two pumpkin pies)

More in our National Wednesdays: today is not only National Simplicity Day, it’s also National Pecan Pie Day!

Wickeds, share your favorite pecan pie recipe or memory. And let us know what you do to incorporate simplicity into your life. Readers, please do the same in the Comments.

Jessie: Since I am allergic to nuts I don’t have any positive memories about pecan pies or recipes for them. I am not allergic to simplicity however and am trying to incorporate more of it into my life whenever possible. I think one of the places I manage it best is when I travel. I have gotten the art of packing down to a single backpack for trips as long as 11 days by simplifying my wardrobe and being really choosy. It makes travel so much more fun not to have to be responsible for lugging around excess.

Sherry: Jessie, even though you’ve shown me your magic packing techniques, I don’t think I could ever manage. I remember the first time I ever tried making a pecan pie. I had to cook it for hours. The recipe is so simple but the darn thing wouldn’t set up. So I guess my simplicity is to buy the pie or eat one out instead of trying to make one. And I also buy the pie crust already made.

Edith: Well, heck. I make a pecan pie every year for Thanksgiving but don’t seem to have a recipe anywhere. One year I made the pie with bourbon in it, and another year added chocolate somewhere. I confess most of the time I use the recipe on either the pecan bag or the bottle of molasses – but always with homemade crust. As for simplicity, it’s kind of a big thing with Quakers. It’s also tough to manage in our busy lives. I envy Jessie that packing thing! And isn’t it nice when you go to a vacation home or a hotel room and you realize all the stuff you don’t actually need? Here’s a picture of the ultra-simple – and beautiful – Amesbury Friends Meetinghouse. Yeah, that.

MeetinghouseinsideFramingtheLight

Picture by Edward Gerrish Mair, used with permission

Barb: I love pecan pie. Our Thanksgiving dessert table groans with choices, especially pies. I bring the mincemeat and apple. I love pumpkin, but favor it for day-after-Thanksgiving breakfast. On the day, lots of people go the little bit of this, little bit of that route, but I give what room I have left entirely to the pecan. As for simplicity, I try to avoid unnecessary drama in my life. I think that counts, right?

Julie: Jessie is walking me through her packing techniques, and I am going to try and use them for a 2 week vacation in August. Even if I use a smaller suitcase it makes life easier. We shall see. Regarding simplicity–I aspire to it, but will confess, I have complicated systems that are simple for me. But then again, I’m a Virgo, so there’s that. Regarding pecan pie, my niece has nut allergies, so I haven’t made it recently, but one of my favorite recipes is Martha Stewart’s Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Pie.  It is very decadent, but so is pecan pie.

Readers: Pecan pie recipes? How you keep your own life simple?

Wicked Wednesday: Bikinis and Graham Crackers

Wait, what? Bikinis and Graham crackers? Is that what we’re supposed to wear while eating graham crackers? No, but it’s Wicked Wednesday and it’s summer, so we thought we’d feature whichever National Days the date falls on. July 5–and I’m sure you ALL knew this–is both National Bikini Day and National Graham Cracker Day.

Graham-Cracker-StackA little background on each, straight from wikipedia: “The Graham Cracker was inspired by the preaching of Sylvester Graham, who was a part of and strongly influenced by the 19th century temperance movement; Graham believed that a vegetarian diet anchored by home-made whole grain bread, made from wheat coarsely ground at home, as part of a lifestyle that involved minimizing pleasure and stimulation of all kinds, was how God intended people to live and that following this natural law would keep people healthy.”

“A bikini is usually a women’s abbreviated two-piece swimsuit with a bra top for the

BeachVolleyball

The US women’s volleyball team wears these.

chest and underwear cut below the navel…. The name for the bikini design was coined in 1946 by Parisian engineer Louis Réard, the designer of the bikini. He named the swimsuit after Bikini Atoll, where testing on the atomic bomb was taking place.”

So fess up, Wickeds – tell us about your first bikini. Extra points if you include a picture of yourself in it. And are you a fan of Graham crackers or never touch the stuff?

Liz: I don’t remember my very first bikini! But I did have an awesome purple polka dot one that I only recently gave up. Which just means I have to go shopping for a new one! As for graham crackers, I like them – but going gluten free meant giving them up. Until I found a really great gluten free version. I love them with peanut butter.

Edith: they are SO good with PB. And as a vehicle for cheesecake…

Barb: I’m not sure I every wore anything that truly qualified as a bikini. I had an excellent green two piece in high school, but I think the bottoms were a little too covery for it to be called a bikini. Since then, nothing even close. I blame it on my love of graham crackers.

Sherry: Ha, Barb! I remember my first bikini! I was in tenth grade and my mom took me shopping for it — she wanted to approve. It was a sky blue with something white on it — maybe palm trees. And hello, Smores! How can none of you mentioned their ooey-gooey goodness?!

Barb: Ha! Sherry, you would be the one to mention the treat with the marshmallow in it.

Edith: I had a red bikini in ninth grade, the year I outgrew my baby fat and hadn’t yet gained any of my adult poundage. But my favorite was the pink  cotton one I sewed when I was sixteen, with eyelet lace at the top of the top. Wore it to the beach for the day with Tibor Derencsenyi, my boyfriend  (a gorgeous Hungarian senior at my school), and at sunset he asked me to the prom. At the time I felt like we were getting engaged. Too bad he broke up with me right after he graduated. Graham crackers? Bring ’em on – regular, chocolate, cinnamon, I love them all.

Julie: When I was about fourteen my mother sewed me a bikini. I wore it twice. My first and only. Sadly, my confidence in bikini wearing was never strong. As for graham crackers–love them. LOVE s’mores, love graham cracker crusts, love them with tea. I’m actually pretty fussy about my graham crackers. Honey Maid or bust.

Readers: Dish on your bikini (or guys, the one you most appreciated seeing…) and your opinion of graham crackers.

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