Friday, January 10, 2020

Cat Gifts by Karen Rose Smith



I was excited by all the new electronic devices my husband and I received for Christmas to help make our daily routines (like preparing a shopping list) a little easier.  However, my favorite gifts are those which are cat-related. Since I love cats and always try to feature them in my cozy mysteries, when I receive a "cat" gift, I feel that the gift was chosen personally for me and that the giver took the time to consider what I enjoy receiving.

Since I write the Daisy's Tea Garden cozy mysteries (and of course love cats!) the Merry Catmas teapot pictured above was the perfect gift from my pet sitter.  It perfectly combined both of my "loves."  And it perfectly complements my Lenox cat cookie jar, a gift from Christmases past.

My son always tries to find a personalized cat gift featuring one of my felines, but this year he gave me a black mug!  Oh, did I forget to mention that the mug turned into a cat mug when it is filled with hot liquid? The image on the mug resembles the original paintings in my vet's office...which I always take a photo of and post on social media when one of my cats has an appointment.



Utilitarian gifts can also be made more personal by adding cats!  I have a collection of decorative canes which I always take with me when I go out.  But until this Christmas, I did not have one that featured cats.  At a distance, it just looks like a multi-colored cane, but up close, various breeds of cats with their expressive eyes bring a smile to my face. 

I saw the new drip-proof umbrellas advertised on TV before the holidays, but I was not aware they came with cats decorating the whole underside of the umbrella.  Now all I have to do is look up on a rainy day and the sweet cat faces staring down at me will chase away the rainy day blues.


I also enjoy giving cat-related gifts.  My husband has quite a collection of "cat" T-shirts.  I added this one to his collection this year.  The cat looks very much like Halo, the pregnant stray we took in who had her kittens in my office.  She and hubby have a special bond.
 

Gift giving from the heart is always immediately recognizable when the gift is opened.  The smile on the recipient's face shows appreciation for someone taking extra care to choose the perfect gift.

Now it's time to start shopping for next Christmas so I can give everyone on my gift list the perfect gift that will brighten their day.

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NOW AVAILABLE


Keith Rebert is homeless with a sad story that includes the death of his wife and medical bills that decimated his finances. Daisy and her friend Jonas Groft meet him through one of Daisy’s employees and offer help. But soon Keith is caught up in a murder investigation. He was supplying the shop Pirated Treasures with antiques, including Gettysburg Battlefield memorabilia. The nephew of the shop’s owner, Barry Storm, was lowballing merchandise that Keith brought in. One day Keith and Barry vehemently argued. Soon after, Barry was found dead, killed with a marble rolling pin that held Keith’s fingerprints. Daisy’s special for the month, cherry tarts, was found spilled on the floor next to him. Keith is the number one suspect.


Keith finds a job on a farm where he can live in a cabin with his daughter Mandy. A friend of Barry’s lived and worked there before the murder, then suddenly moved out. As Daisy finds clues that give insight into Barry’s life and prepares for her daughter’s wedding, she faces danger, verbally battles with the detective on the case, and tries to figure out what part Jonas Groft plays in her life. When she finds the ultimate clue that tells her exactly what Barry Storm was involved in, she almost loses her life. 




Friday, January 3, 2020

"Dotting" The House With Technology by Karen Rose Smith




Christmas brought new technology to the Smith house!  After seeing the online promotions and discussing with friends how the Amazon Echo and Dot have conveniently worked in their homes, I decided to take the plunge and gift these items to my husband.  I suppose the younger generation view these items as the newest technology and add them to their homes to keep up with the latest additions to phones and tablets.  But, as a member of an older generation, rather than fighting the technology, I look at these new gadgets as a way to help me do things with less stress on me and my body.  As a person with arthritis and tendonitis, it is much more convenient to give a voice command to turn on a light, make a phone call or listen to an audiobook than getting out of my chair or maneuvering my phone or tablet.

We have added smart speakers in my office, den and master bedroom.  Now, at night, if I go upstairs to settle for the evening and my husband is still downstairs, I can talk to him with a simple voice command, rather than getting up and yelling down the stairs.  If either of us were to fall or need medical assistance, we can call each other...or emergency services...hands free.  I can also call anyone on my phone's contact list.

Do you remember the "Clapper?"  We were still using them to turn on lights in the bedroom, but recently I was having a flareup of wrist problems and was unable to "clap" the light on.  So we added a smart plug, synced it with Alexa and now I can just ask her to turn on or off the light!








I'm sure, as we become more familiar with the technology, we will embrace it even more as we discover new ways it can make our "golden" years easier.  And it is also reassuring that if we need assistance, it can be there with one simple voice command.


Needless to say, my heroine in my Daisy's Tea Garden cozy mystery series will most probably be adding these devices to her home.  Hmmm...


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NOW AVAILABLE



Keith Rebert is homeless with a sad story that includes the death of his wife and medical bills that decimated his finances. Daisy and her friend Jonas Groft meet him through one of Daisy’s employees and offer help. But soon Keith is caught up in a murder investigation. He was supplying the shop Pirated Treasures with antiques, including Gettysburg Battlefield memorabilia. The nephew of the shop’s owner, Barry Storm, was lowballing merchandise that Keith brought in. One day Keith and Barry vehemently argued. Soon after, Barry was found dead, killed with a marble rolling pin that held Keith’s fingerprints. Daisy’s special for the month, cherry tarts, was found spilled on the floor next to him. Keith is the number one suspect.

Keith finds a job on a farm where he can live in a cabin with his daughter Mandy. A friend of Barry’s lived and worked there before the murder, then suddenly moved out. As Daisy finds clues that give insight into Barry’s life and prepares for her daughter’s wedding, she faces danger, verbally battles with the detective on the case, and tries to figure out what part Jonas Groft plays in her life. When she finds the ultimate clue that tells her exactly what Barry Storm was involved in, she almost loses her life. 


Friday, December 27, 2019

I Found A Gem of a Tea Room in Manchester, Maryland by Karen Rose Smith



After all these years, it is difficult for my husband to find different venues to celebrate my birthday.  This year he happened across a newly opened tea room only about twenty minutes from our home.  Considering that my Daisy's Tea Garden cozy mysteries are set in a tea room in nearby Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, this new establishment seemed the perfect place to celebrate.  They were featuring a "Starry Night Tea" on the weekend of my birthday...so he made reservations and we headed for the Steeped Tea Cafe in Manchester, Maryland on a sunny December Sunday afternoon.

The tea room was festively decorated with Christmas merriment and the tea rooms were also adorned with traditional "tea" items.  We were seated in the spillover room which gave us the entire three-table room to ourselves.  It was enjoyable to have some quiet time away from the phone and computer to chat and enjoy the Christmas music that surrounded us.












The menu was displayed on each table and we knew we were in for a real treat. 


After our choice of tea was served, our first course was a delicate cranberry chocolate chip scone which blended really well with the Starry Night tea, a custom blend made at the Steeped Tea cafe.

That was followed by a delicious potato leek soup that was complemented by an arugula and pomegranate salad with a champagne vinaigrette dressing.



While we were waiting for the main course and dessert tower, we had a chance to chat with our waiter who was a family member of the owner.  We discussed how the business came to fruition as a family endeavor and how the cafe differed from other tea rooms in the vicinity.  It's always good to have research resources for future cozy mysteries right at my doorstep.


We certainly were not disappointed when the layered tea tower was presented.  The lower level featured grilled shrimp bruschetta, beef and blue cheese crostini and butternut squash puffs all of which were  accompanied by the dessert offerings -- toasted hazelnut glazed pumpkin cake, a red velvet trifle and dipped Madeleines.  Needless to say, by the end of the dessert course I was stuffing my cake and Madeleine in my purse to enjoy later.




After we finished our meal, we were greeted by Brandon Reiter, the chef and owner of the cafe.  It was enjoyable discussing the business and getting a peek into the intricacies of creating a menu and preparing enough food to serve all the guests on a given day.  Chef Reiter never believed he would end up owning and operating a tea room when he graduated from the Culinary Institute of America.  But he has enjoyed the last 18 months of ownership and hopes to expand the business even more.

Quiet time with my husband, a unique tea cafe and delicious food...what better way to spend my birthday?  Please feel free to share your unique dining experiences as you celebrate special events in your year.


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NOW AVAILABLE



Keith Rebert is homeless with a sad story that includes the death of his wife and medical bills that decimated his finances. Daisy and her friend Jonas Groft meet him through one of Daisy’s employees and offer help. But soon Keith is caught up in a murder investigation. He was supplying the shop Pirated Treasures with antiques, including Gettysburg Battlefield memorabilia. The nephew of the shop’s owner, Barry Storm, was lowballing merchandise that Keith brought in. One day Keith and Barry vehemently argued. Soon after, Barry was found dead, killed with a marble rolling pin that held Keith’s fingerprints. Daisy’s special for the month, cherry tarts, was found spilled on the floor next to him. Keith is the number one suspect.

Keith finds a job on a farm where he can live in a cabin with his daughter Mandy. A friend of Barry’s lived and worked there before the murder, then suddenly moved out. As Daisy finds clues that give insight into Barry’s life and prepares for her daughter’s wedding, she faces danger, verbally battles with the detective on the case, and tries to figure out what part Jonas Groft plays in her life. When she finds the ultimate clue that tells her exactly what Barry Storm was involved in, she almost loses her life. 




Friday, December 20, 2019

Cats Reign In My House



In my Daisy's Tea Garden cozy mysteries, Daisy has two felines that are a part of almost every scene which is set in her barn home.  Pepper and Marjoram always greet Daisy when she arrives home from a long day at the tea garden and are her constant companions when she is at home alone.  She often talks to them about her murder investigations, allowing her to hash out loud clues that have been spinning in her mind.  Often they settle on the sofa or chair in the living room when Daisy is chatting with her daughters Jazzi and Vi or her beau Jonas.

Zoie Joy (AKA Pepper) appreciates
the current animal print trend. 
Pepper and Marjoram are modeled after two of my own felines--Zoie Joy and Miss Paddington.  My padded living room and office furniture is their favorite napping and bathing spots.  When I purchased a new recliner for my husband as an anniversary gift, all the felines had to test it before he had the chance to enjoy it.  Often when a cat has settled there for the evening, he ends up sitting in another chair, envying the cat who took his new throne.




Miss Paddington (AKA Marjoram) prefers the
leather recliner.
I was sorting through my cat photos and found numerous shots of my "royal" felines enjoying their favorite "thrones."  Here are some of them:

Zander prefers chairs with large
padded arms. 

Miss Paddington settles on the padded
cushion of a kitchen chair.
The chair's arm and back provide Zander
with a royal view of the whole living room.


Zoie Joy often chooses the back of her
favorite chairs where the view is definitely better.

Freya isn't picky about her resting spots.  She tries them all out.   
Do your cats "reign" supreme or are they willing to share their thrones? 

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NOW AVAILABLE



Keith Rebert is homeless with a sad story that includes the death of his wife and medical bills that decimated his finances. Daisy and her friend Jonas Groft meet him through one of Daisy’s employees and offer help. But soon Keith is caught up in a murder investigation. He was supplying the shop Pirated Treasures with antiques, including Gettysburg Battlefield memorabilia. The nephew of the shop’s owner, Barry Storm, was lowballing merchandise that Keith brought in. One day Keith and Barry vehemently argued. Soon after, Barry was found dead, killed with a marble rolling pin that held Keith’s fingerprints. Daisy’s special for the month, cherry tarts, was found spilled on the floor next to him. Keith is the number one suspect.


Keith finds a job on a farm where he can live in a cabin with his daughter Mandy. A friend of Barry’s lived and worked there before the murder, then suddenly moved out. As Daisy finds clues that give insight into Barry’s life and prepares for her daughter’s wedding, she faces danger, verbally battles with the detective on the case, and tries to figure out what part Jonas Groft plays in her life. When she finds the ultimate clue that tells her exactly what Barry Storm was involved in, she almost loses her life. 
   

Friday, December 6, 2019

A Perfect Cup of Tea by Karen Rose Smith

by Karen Rose Smith


With the release of MURDER WITH CHERRY TARTS, the fourth book in my Daisy's Tea Garden cozy mystery series, my mind has been on all things tea-related.  I can remember as a child having a cup of tea meant boiling some water in a pan on the stove, pouring it into a mug and adding a tea bag.  Tea was often the choice warm beverage on days when I was home from school with a nasty head cold.

But when I embarked on the task of creating a tea-themed focus for a new cozy mystery series and began researching tea and tea rooms, I developed a new-found appreciation for tea.  I was amazed at all the varieties and blends available and the art involved in creating a perfect cup of tea.  There definitely is a tea to satisfy everybody's palette.  
As I began visiting area tea rooms, I was fascinated and curious how each owner was able to supply every guest at a table a different cup of perfectly brewed tea of their choice from an extensive menu.  I was delighted to find on the back of a business card from TranquilaTea Tea Room in Waynesboro, Pennsylvania tips for brewing a perfect cup of tea.  I would like to share those tips with my readers.

Brewing A Perfect Cup Of Tea

  • Bring cold water to a boil
  • Measure 1 tsp loose leaf tea per 6 oz of water
  • Place tea in an infuser or tea filter bag
  • Immerse infuser or tea bag filter into cup or pot filled with boiled water that has cooled slightly  
Water Temperature

205 degrees (F) for black, herbal and rooibos teas
180 degrees (F) for green and white teas

Steeping Times

Green and white teas -- 2 minutes
Black teas -- 3 minutes
Herbal and rooibos teas -- 3 to 5 minutes
For a stronger cup, add more tea leaves.  Do not steep for a longer period of time, as this can lead to a bitter cup!




Now available:

Keith Rebert is homeless with a sad story that includes the death of his wife and medical bills that decimated his finances. Daisy and her friend Jonas Groft meet him through one of Daisy’s employees and offer help. But soon Keith is caught up in a murder investigation. He was supplying the shop Pirated Treasures with antiques, including Gettysburg Battlefield memorabilia. The nephew of the shop’s owner, Barry Storm, was lowballing merchandise that Keith brought in. One day Keith and Barry vehemently argued. Soon after, Barry was found dead, killed with a marble rolling pin that held Keith’s fingerprints. Daisy’s special for the month, cherry tarts, was found spilled on the floor next to him. Keith is the number one suspect.

Keith finds a job on a farm where he can live in a cabin with his daughter Mandy. A friend of Barry’s lived and worked there before the murder, then suddenly moved out. As Daisy finds clues that give insight into Barry’s life and prepares for her daughter’s wedding, she faces danger, verbally battles with the detective on the case, and tries to figure out what part Jonas Groft plays in her life. When she finds the ultimate clue that tells her exactly what Barry Storm was involved in, she almost loses her life. 


MURDER WITH CHERRY TARTS on Amazon


Thursday, November 28, 2019

Thankful For A New Release--MURDER WITH CHERRY TARTS


I have so many things to be thankful for and I could write about the traditional thanksgiving list of family, friends, health and on and on--all the things that surround me on a daily basis.  Truthfully as I grow older, I reflect on these things every day.  The one thing, as I get wrapped up in my day to day writing chores, that I sometimes forget to appreciate is the fact that I was gifted with the talent of telling stories in the written word and that I was fortunate enough to be able to share my stories with my readers.  So it seems significant that I celebrate my 103rd release this week with the publication of MURDER WITH CHERRY TARTS, the fourth in my Daisy's Tea Garden cozy mystery series for Kensington Books.  And today I want to thank my faithful readers through the past twenty-seven years for believing in me and trusting me to produce a story that will warm your hearts and touch your spirit.  I have appreciated all of your kind words and supportive notes through the years.

MURDER WITH CHERRY TARTS is a cozy mystery which revolves around Daisy's outreach to a homeless single father and his darling daughter.  I created a yummy cherry tart recipe for this book that is included in the back of the book. 

Pirated Treasures is an antiques shop that also plays a significant
role in the mystery.  Daisy purchases a Burton and Burton Victorian design teapot atop a teacup from the owner of the shop on one of her many visits to the shop while she is gathering clues to solve the murder of the store owner's nephew.  Notice its uniquely-shaped infinity handle.

What could better than a steaming cup of tea, delicious food and delicate china to soften the sometimes terrifying search for a murderer in the community of Willow Creek, Pennsylvania, deep in Amish country!

Here is a little summary of the book which is now available:

Keith Rebert is homeless with a sad story that includes the death of his wife and medical bills that decimated his finances. Daisy and her friend Jonas Groft meet him through one of Daisy’s employees and offer help. But soon Keith is caught up in a murder investigation. He was supplying the shop Pirated Treasures with antiques, including Gettysburg Battlefield memorabilia. The nephew of the shop’s owner, Barry Storm, was lowballing merchandise that Keith brought in. One day Keith and Barry vehemently argued. Soon after, Barry was found dead, killed with a marble rolling pin that held Keith’s fingerprints. Daisy’s special for the month, cherry tarts, was found spilled on the floor next to him. Keith is the number one suspect.

Keith finds a job on a farm where he can live in a cabin with his daughter Mandy. A friend of Barry’s lived and worked there before the murder, then suddenly moved out. As Daisy finds clues that give insight into Barry’s life and prepares for her daughter’s wedding, she faces danger, verbally battles with the detective on the case, and tries to figure out what part Jonas Groft plays in her life. When she finds the ultimate clue that tells her exactly what Barry Storm was involved in, she almost loses her life. 


MURDER WITH CHERRY TARTS on Amazon

Saturday, November 2, 2019

WOOD You Shop Here? by Karen Rose Smith



Recently my husband and I went for a drive through Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.  Since my Daisy's Tea Garden cozy mystery series is set in PA Amish country, I like to take an occasional drive though the area to soak in the Amish way of life which was immediately evident as we veered off the Old Philadelphia Pike onto several side roads that wound through Amish homesteads and farms.  It was a beautiful fall day and the horse-drawn farm equipment was active preparing the fields for winter and next spring's crops. Amish scooter cycles were being maneuvered along the country roads and wash was strung on pulley lines from the houses to the barn roofs.


The Amish operate many of the business establishments along the main route.  I always enjoy shopping in these stores and appreciating the hand crafted quilts, wall hangings, garden ornaments and furniture.

We stopped at a small coffee shop in the town of Intercourse for a quiet lunch.  I enjoyed watching the horse and buggies clopping along the street and the multitude of tourists who were enjoying the shops and outdoor entertainment at Kettle Village, directly across the street.

Sharing the same building as the coffee shop was a furniture store with locally-crafted pieces, many from reclaimed wood.  This shop immediately reminded me of WOODS, the business that is owned and operated by Jonas Groft in my tea garden mysteries.  Daisy often makes the short trek down the main street in Willow Creek, Pennsylvania, the fictional town I created based in historic Lancaster County, to visit Jonas.

Jonas makes many of the pieces featured in his shop, most made from reclaimed wood he often travels to purchase. Sometimes wood is found in old buildings that are being demolished or renovated.  Daisy often observes the chairs lined in cubicles along one wall of the shop, very similar to the display in the store we discovered in Intercourse.  They also featured tabletops which could be mounted on the pedestal bases of your choice, reclaimed wood mantles, and beautiful doors.



Some unusual items also caught my attention.  The shelf planter bicycle would be the perfect addition for a porch or sun room.  There were also many signs made from reclaimed wood, some with just a single word, others with more thought-provoking messages.

 I really enjoyed this visit to a shop that took me to a place that I had created in my imagination and shared on the written page.   I truly felt friendliness, warmth and peace knowing that such places truly do exist.



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Coming in December!

NOW AVAILABLE FOR PRE-ORDER



In Pennsylvania’s Amish country, Daisy Swanson has a tea shop to run, a daughter to marry off—and a murder to solve . . .

Daisy’s worried one of her employees at Daisy’s Tea Garden may be in a spot of trouble. Lately Karina’s been loading up on soup and second-day baked goods at the end of her shift—and while the shop’s scrumptious treats may be hard to resist, Daisy suspects there’s more going on, especially since Karina has been seen hanging out in a rundown part of Willow Creek.

Planning her own daughter’s wedding is enough to keep her busy, but Daisy can’t help feeling a protective maternal instinct—and an instinct to investigate. It turns out Karina has been helping a down-on-his luck single dad who’s been making ends meet—barely—by selling antiques at a place called Pirated Treasures.

But when an employee at the antiques store is bludgeoned to death with a marble rolling pin, Karina’s new friend is suspect number one. Though the motives are muddy and steeped in intrigue, Daisy is more than determined to flush the real killer out.