Thursday, November 30, 2017

Little Grey Tote Bag/Beach Towel

Lorraine Masonheimer is here to show us how to use the Grey Cells New Year's Card cover art to make a tote bag or t-shirt.

CONCEPT: Take Detective Hercule Poirot’s “Burn A Few” to the gym, beach or about town. Make a t-shirt, a tote bag or beach towel. The design’s festive party background, martini glass, moustache, cane and hat is the perfect accompaniment to the light-hearted play on words to burn a few when celebrating.

Burn A Few high resolution .pdf file
A local direct to garment print shop.

Step One: Cover Art
Place your cursor over the Burn A Few high resolution art (above), right click, scroll to ‘Save Image As’ and place it onto your computer desktop.

Choose a local or online print shop that has the ability to perform direct to garment printing for one item. The design looks best on a white shirt (50/50 cotton poly blend or 100% cotton), tote bag or beach towel.

Depending upon your selections—t-shirts and tote bags begin at $6 and a 30 x 60 beach towel at $31. Coasters are available as well.

TIP: Depending upon the material chosen for the printed tote bag, cut it apart and make a pillow with all the trimmings. Include beading, charms of poison bottles and other Agatha Christie tools of murder. Place onto a barstool or sofa, lean back, pop a few salty nuts and enjoy a cold one.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Mystery Wednesday

Did you see last night's wedding on Major Crimes between Captain Sharon Raydor and Lt. Andy Flynn? Shippers have been waiting for this one for several seasons. I won't spoil the episode for you with details, but it's worth going to the TNT website and watching the ep if you missed it. This is the final season and I will miss the show once it's off the air. 

Katherine Hall Page's excellent novel, The Body in the Casket, comes out next week (on December 5th.) Both Kerry and I were treated to early copies. Kerry's review will appear soon, but you may want to pre-order. This one is fun. Here's the description:

The inimitable Faith Fairchild returns in a chilling New England whodunit, inspired by the best Agatha Christie mysteries and with hints of the timeless board game Clue.For most of her adult life, resourceful caterer Faith Fairchild has called the sleepy Massachusetts village of Aleford home. While the native New Yorker has come to know the region well, she isn’t familiar with Havencrest, a privileged enclave, until the owner of Rowan House, a secluded sprawling Arts and Crafts mansion, calls her about catering a weekend house party. 
Producer/director of a string of hit musicals, Max Dane—a Broadway legend—is throwing a lavish party to celebrate his seventieth birthday. At the house as they discuss the event, Faith’s client makes a startling confession. "I didn’t hire you for your cooking skills, fine as they may be, but for your sleuthing ability. You see, one of the guests wants to kill me." 
Faith’s only clue is an ominous birthday gift the man received the week before—an empty casket sent anonymously containing a twenty-year-old Playbill from Max’s last, and only failed, production—Heaven or Hell. Consequently, Max has drawn his guest list for the party from the cast and crew. As the guests begin to arrive one by one, and an ice storm brews overhead, Faith must keep one eye on the menu and the other on her host to prevent his birthday bash from becoming his final curtain call.Full of delectable recipes, brooding atmosphere, and Faith’s signature biting wit, The Body in the Casketis a delightful thriller that echoes the beloved mysteries of Agatha Christie and classic films such as Murder by Death and Deathtrap.

Short Fiction a-Twitter

If you're on Twitter and love short stories, you might like to know that both Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine and Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine have joined Twitter. You can find Alfred Hitchcock @ahitchcockmm and Ellery Queen at @eqmm. Other short story Twitter IDs you might also want to follow include the Short Mystery Fiction Society @SMFSocy,  @JoyceCarolOates, @MysteryWeekly and of course, @MysteryPlaygrnd, @deblacy and @kerryhammond88.

That's it for this weeks, Mystery Wednesday. Hope it gets you over hump day. It seems like weeks after holidays are always a little more jam packed with work.

- Deborah Lacy

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Hallmark Mysteries Channel: The Garage Sale Mysteries

The Hallmark Channel is busy playing Christmas shows, but for mystery fans, there are still lots of mysteries to watch as well. Kerry Hammond is here today to tell us about The Garage Sale Mysteries on the Hallmark Movies and Mysteries Channel.

The Garage Sale Mysteries stars Lori Loughlin as Jennifer Shannon, co-owner of the Rags to Riches consignment shop. Jennifer and her business partner, Danielle (played by Sarah Strange), frequent estate and garage sales looking for treasures to resell in their store. Lucky for us mystery fans, looking at antiques and heirlooms often leads to the unraveling of family secrets—and even murder.

Hallmark has produced eleven Garage Sale Mysteries surrounding the characters created by author Suzi Weinert. Weinert’s series only contains three books so Hallmark has added to the storylines and created additional mysteries. I have not read any of the books in the series but I believe that they are a bit darker than the television series. One involves a terrorist group and another a criminal preying on senior citizens, whereas the Hallmark version deals with things like a string of neighborhood burglaries and a cold case involving a wedding dress.

I think it’s safe to say that the show is loosely based on Weinert’s characters and concept and I think the formula works well. I’ve watched every episode and they’re extremely well made and entertaining. The supporting actors are well cast and really add to the value of the series. This is one series that I hope to see Hallmark continue filming.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Cookin’ Up Christmas with a Little Murder on the Side

Lorraine Masonheimer is cooking up a mysterious Christmas...

What’s not to like?  An adorable romance, an idyllic small town dressed in its holiday best, a bakery loaded with mouthwatering sweets and a murder to add spice.  The Hallmark movie Murder, She Baked:  A Plum Pudding Mystery mixes the right ingredients to serve up a fun who-dun-it just in time for Christmas.  

Hannah Swenson, owner and baker extraordinaire of the town’s hub-bub The Cookie Jar Shop stops by Larry Jeager’s Crazy Elf Christmas Tree Lot to pick up her check for a cookie delivery made earlier that day.  She finds her check clutched in Larry’s very dead hand, an empty bottle of booze and blood as red as a crimson Poinsettia.  Hannah stays one step ahead of the very handsome love-interest Detective Mike Kingston to help solve the crime.

The plot is filled with many plausible possibilities for motive, opportunity and ultimately identifying the murderer.  The characters are charming and beloved in Joanne Fluke’s Hannah Swenson series now topping at 21 books.  The romance is nicely woven throughout the movie with visuals of every cookie and pastry imaginable and shots of peaceful winter scenes about town.  This movie will bring on the holiday spirit and inspire a move to Eden Lake, Minnesota to open a bake shop.  However, the murder is never far from the action throughout the movie.

The soundtrack provides suspense and the clever use of graphics keeping the viewer clued in throughout the movie. The end shot has all the sights and sounds of hearth and home with family and friends gathered ‘round the Christmas table until the next time Hannah stumbles across a dead body.  The movie is equal parts romantic Christmas and mystery.  It is available On Demand throughout the holiday.

It is clear author Joanne Fluke is a baker at heart and so is her lead character Hannah.  In the movie Hannah states a true baker “always adds a twist to a recipe to make it her own.”  In honor of Hannah’s spirit of baking, here’s a savory twist on the Italian classic pie recipe known as a Crostata.  This base recipe is a creation of Chef Giada De Laurentiis with my own twist.  I used roasted shallots.  

Savory Butternut Squash Crostata

One 1 1/4-pound butternut squash, sliced into 1/3-inch thick rounds
10-12 shallots sliced 1/4-inch thick (or 1 red onion)
2 tablespoons olive oil 
Kosher salt 
One 9-inch refrigerated pie crust, chilled 
Half 5.2-ounce container herbed cheese, (Boursin is good)
1 tablespoon rough chopped pistachios
1/2 cup baby arugula 
1 tablespoon pomegranate seeds 

Preheat the oven to 3750. Scatter the squash and onions on a rimmed baking sheet, drizzle with the olive oil and season with 1/2 teaspoon salt. Toss well to coat evenly.

Roast until the squash is tender all the way through and the shallows are soft and turning golden brown, 28 to 30 minutes. Let cool slightly.

Unroll the pie crust onto a nonstick baking sheet. Crumble half of the cheese over the crust, leaving a 2-inch border. Top with the roasted onions and then shingle with the squash in circles. Fold the crust borders up and over the filling, crimping every 2 inches or so. Sprinkle the exposed squash with the pistachios and the remaining cheese.  If desired, brush melted butter and sprinkle salt and pepper over the crust to brown and add flavor.

Bake until the crust is golden brown and the cheese is melted, about 30 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes and sprinkle with the arugula and pomegranate seeds.  Slice and serve warm or at room temperature.  This dish fills the home with the scent and sight of Christmas.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Girl Waits With Gun & The Revolver

Today’s Drinks with Reads book Girl Waits With Gun is based on true facts and Kerry Hammond is here to tell us about the book and the drink she’s paired with it.

Girl Waits With Gun is the first book in a three book series by Amy Stewart featuring the Kopp Sisters. The books are historical fiction, which means they are fictional stories based on real people and real events. Stewart devoured newspaper headlines and articles, and she searched through court documents and public records. She then took the facts she found and crafted a story around them, starting with the real life Kopp sisters' lives and adding the dialogue and some side stories for effect. The final product is a portrayal of true courage and adventure that not only entertains the reader but educates as well.

Constance Kopp is the heroine of our story, which takes place in New Jersey in 1914. She’s nearly 6 ft. tall and has more guts than most men of her day. She is unmarried and living with her two sisters on their deceased mother’s land, much to the concern of their only brother. One day while the sisters are riding their horse and buggy into town a motor car crashes into them. The driver blames the girls and refuses to make amends for the damage done. Constance finds out that the driver is Henry Kaufman, a silk factory owner, and she locates him in an attempt to convince him to pay the debt he owes. But rather than comply, Kaufman and his gang terrorize the sisters, damage more property, and make physical threats against them. The local sheriff gets involved and arms the sisters for their protection. He helps them seek the justice they deserve.

The book is full of real headlines that ran in newspapers during the Kopp Sisters’ ordeal, as well as actual letters that were entered into evidence and found in court records. Given the fact that the sheriff entrusted Constance with a firearm, I thought the perfect drink to pair with the book was the Revolver. It's easy to make and only has three simple ingredients.
The Revolver

1 1⁄3 oz Bulleit Bourbon
1⁄3 oz Coffee liqueur
2 dashes orange bitters

Put all ingredients into a mixing glass filled with ice. Stir until chilled and then strain into a cocktail glass.