Sunday, July 31, 2016

Mixology Dice

If you’ve ever wanted to try creating your own cocktails, these dice might be just what you need. Kerry Hammond is here to show us her latest find.

We like our cocktails here at Mystery Playground. So much so that we pair the perfect drink with the perfect book in our weekly Drinks withReads posts. Mixology has become a well-used word and we now call bartenders who create their own drinks Mixologists.

Creating your own drinks is a lot of fun. I recently came across these Mixology dice that I thought would help get me in a creative mood. There are eight dice and each one has six different ingredients, one per side.

You can roll them all at once and see what comes up, or only roll the category you’re needing inspiration for. If your drink needs some sort of citrus flavor, roll that die and let it tell you if the drink should have grapefruit or lemon. The only thing left to do will be to name those concoctions that prove to be particularly delicious.

You can follow Kerry on Twitter @kerryhammond88 and Mystery Playground @mysteryplaygrnd, or find us on Facebook.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Hello, Bicycle: An Inspired Guide to the Two-Wheeled Life

So I'm in the market for a Beach Cruiser bike like the one that I had in college so we're taking a little deviation from our usual mystery fiction fare today. 

I saw this little handbook and couldn't resist. Hello, Bicycle: An Inspired Guide to the Two-Wheeled Life by Anna Brones is the perfect refresher course on all things bicycle. 

The book cycles through why riding bicycles is so great, what you need to know to ride, how to take care of your bike, activities on your bike and even comes with recipes for bike friendly snacks (like Chocolate Hazelnut Granola Bars, yum). 

The chapters are short and easy to read. There's lots of white space and illustrations, so you can skip just to the subject you need, when you need it -- like how to change a flat tire, or what to consider when buying a bike. 

The book is easy to understand, so even someone who's just get into casual cycling but would like to know a bit more will find this book useful. Hello, Bicycle also goes into detail for subjects like Bike Commuting, Cycling Etiquette and Biking with Children. 

So if you're new to biking, or just need an informed refresher, Hello Bicycle is a great way to go. 

- Deborah Lacy

This book was sent to Mystery Playground by Blogging for Books. The review is fair and independent. 

Friday, July 29, 2016

Read to Death, Cool Lemonade & Giveaway

Agatha Award-winning author Terrie Farley Moran is back with us today to match her third book in the Read 'Em and Eat series, Read to Death, with the perfect drink. And there's a giveaway for the beautiful journal featured at the end of the post. Details below.

- Deborah Lacy

The story opens:
"In the parking lot of the Read ’Em and Eat Café and Book Corner, I stood by the side of a sky blue van with oversized white letters advertising the “Gulf Coast Cab and Van” etched on the center door panel. I mentally counted the members of the Cool Reads/Warm Climate Book Club as they settled in. All six were present. My BFF and business partner, Bridgy Mayfield, was busily stowing thermoses of sweet tea and pastry boxes in the carrier right behind the driver."

Sassy Cabot and Bridgy Mayfield, proprietors of the Read ‘Em and Eat Café in Fort Myers Beach, are taking the “Cool Reads/Warm Climate” book club on their annual field trip. This year they are visiting the Edison and Ford Winter Estates. Chatty Oscar Frieland is their driver. Besides flirting with the ladies, Oscar tells them all about the history of the estate—with stories about Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, and Harvey Firestone.

When they come back from the field trip, Sassy and Bridgy make fresh lemonade, and here's their recipe. But be careful when you drink it, because while the book club ladies drink their lemonade at the table named after Dashiell Hammett, Bridgy begins calling for help. She found Oscar's dead body slumped across the seat of the van. Now Bridgy is quickly becoming the prime suspect so she and Sassy decide they must find out who the real killer is.  

Read 'Em and Eat Lemonade

2 cups sugar
2 cups water
1 gallon cold water
Juice of 8 lemons
1 sliced lemon

First you make the simple syrup by combining the sugar and water in a small sauce pan over low heat. Bring to a boil. Stir the syrup until the sugar completely dissolves. Remove the pan from the heat. Wait until it cools. 

While you're waiting, juice 8 lemons taking care to remove the seeds. Slice the 9th lemon for garnish. 

Add a gallon of cold water and the lemon juice to a large glass pitcher. Add the simple syrup and the lemon slices. Stir well. Pour lemonade over ice. 

To enter to win the colorful journal below, simple comment about why you want to read Read to Death. US Residents only. We'll announce the winner here next week.

You can find Terrie Farley Moran on Facebook page or on her website. You can see her Drinks with Reads post for the first two books in the Read 'Em and Eat Series - here's Well Read, then Dead, and here's Caught-Read Handed

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Christmas in July: Sherlock Tree - 221b Door

It's Christmas in July at Mystery Playground and we're making a Sherlock ornament filled tree this summer at the excellent suggestion of Pattie Tierney. We do this in the summer so you have plenty of time to plan your own Sherlock tree before the holidays really get rolling. You can see our Mind Palace ornaments, the Illustration Cut Out ornaments, and the Silhouette Cube ornaments from earlier in the month. 

Today we're making a 221b Door Ornament. I've seen these all over Pinterest, so I can't say it's my original idea, but it's so many places there isn't one place to tip the hat. They are so cute, I couldn't leave them out of this series. Turns out they are pretty easy to make. 


  • Wooden Dollhouse Door (I got one that opens)
  • Dollhouse Door Knob
  • Wood Stain or Paint
  • Gold paint for the letters
  • Little foam brush
  • Tiny paint brush or wooden BBQ skewer
  • Paper Plate
  • Paper Towels
  • Newspaper to cover the table
  • Gorilla Glue (not pictured)
  • Elmers Glue (not pictured)
  • A piece of thin ribbon - three inches long (not pictured)

Step One:
Paint your dollhouse door. I used wood stain because I had it around. You want to paint all sides and it may take more than one coat to get it just right. Use a damp paper towel to quickly clean away any drips or excess. 


Step Two:
After your door has dried, now is the tricky part - painting on the 221b. Now, there are commercially make little numbers for dollhouse doors, but you'll need two sets and you'll still have to paint the b anyway. I decided just to wing it and paint all of the letters. It isn't perfect, but it's good enough for most Sherlock trees. I practiced on my paper plate with the gold paint and discovered that the BBQ skewer allowed be to be a little more precise than the paint brush. You may want to try both on the paper plate and see which you like best. Let dry. 

Step Three:
Glue your little door knob onto your little door. Use just enough Gorilla Glue so it doesn't drip down the sides or through the little key hole. Let the door knob dry. 

Step Four:
Now you are ready to make a hanger. Cut the ribbon to three inches long. Make a loop and use the Elmer's glue to adhere the ends to the top of the door. Let dry.

Step Five:
Since the door opens, you can take a photo of your favorite Sherlock and glue the outsides of the photo to the frame. 

And now you are done. We'll be back in a few months to show you the entire tree and make suggestions for Sherlock ornaments that you can put on the tree with these four beauties. 

- Deborah Lacy

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

R.I.P. Mrs. White: Hasbro Makes Changes to the Clue Board Game

At Mystery Playground, we love Clue. We love making jewelry from Clue game pieces, and playing the game. Kerry Hammond is here with big news because one of the original Clue characters is being replaced.  

- Deborah Lacy, Chief Storyteller
Clue has got to be one of the most famous board games of all time and I’ve been a fan for as long as I can remember. The 1985 Clue movie starring Madeline Kahn and Tim Curry is wonderful, I’ve seen a musical based on the game, and I’ve even dressed up as one of its characters for Halloween (I was Miss Scarlet in the Library with the Candlestick). However, I had to do a little bit of research to find out more about the history of the game.

The game was created in 1944 by an Englishman from Birmingham and is known as Cluedo everywhere but North America (Clue + Ludo—which is Latin for “I play”). The creator originally called the game “Murder!” and it is believed that the game was intended to be played in bomb shelters during WWII, to keep people’s minds off the fact that bombs were dropping over their heads perhaps.

There were a few changes that were made to the game prior to its first publication in 1949, and a few more were made as the game came to the United States (in addition to the name change). The game I grew up on contains six characters, six weapons, and nine rooms. I’ve always loved that the rooms had a British flair, especially the Conservatory, Ballroom and Billiard Room.

Hasbro has decided after 67 years of play that Mrs. White will be killed off. If your envelope contains: Hasbro in the Design Room with the Permanent Marker, you win! Our beloved housekeeper will be replaced by Dr. Orchard, a biologist who has a Ph.D. in plant toxicology and was privately schooled in Switzerland "until her expulsion following a near-fatal daffodil poisoning incident." Her connection to the characters are that 1) she is the adopted daughter of the mansion’s owner, and 2) she was home schooled after her expulsion from the Swiss school by none other than…..Mrs. White.

I, for one, am not that thrilled about the change. What do you think?