featuring guest mystery authors; crafting tips and projects; recipes from food editor and sleuthing sidekick Cloris McWerther; and decorating, travel, fashion, health, beauty, and finance tips from the rest of the American Woman editors.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

HEALTHY LIVING WITH JANICE--THE 5 SECOND RULE

Janice drops by today with something for all of us to think about. -- AP

How many of you subscribe to the 5 second rule? I’ll bet many. Something drops on the floor, and if you pick it up within 5 seconds, it’s safe to eat.

I don’t think so.

But your floor was just washed, you say? It hasn’t had time to collect germs, bacteria, and all sorts of yucky stuff? Guess again.

Think about all the places you walk in any given day. Outside. On your lawn. In your driveway. In your garage. Across the street. Down the sidewalk. In a parking lot. In the supermarket. In an office building.

Now think about everything that you might have and probably did step on and in as you walked around. All the microscopic viruses, molds, mildews, bacteria. All the animal droppings that are too small to see (rodents, anyone?) All the places where dogs and cats pee. Where men spit. Where people sneeze. Or worse.

All that yucky stuff is now on the bottom of your shoes. The same shoes that are now walking around your house, depositing microscopic bits of all that yucky stuff all over your hardwoods and carpets and tiles and linoleum.

Now, do you still believe in the 5 second rule?

Thanks, Janice. Makes you rethink things, doesn’t it? So what do you think about the 5 second rule now? Let’s hear from you. Anyone who posts a comment this week is entered in the drawing to win a book from our Book Club Friday guest author. -- AP

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

COOKING WITH CLORIS -- RED, WHITE AND BLUEBERRY LIBERTY TOAST

Okay, this is really Cloris’s yummy French toast recipe, but since 4 th of July is right around the corner, we’re giving it a more patriotic name. Prepare this the night before. Bake the next morning and serve for brunch after the parade. -- AP

RED, WHITE AND BLUEBERRY LIBERTY TOAST

2 cups blueberries
2 cups sliced strawberries
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 loaf Italian or French bread, cut into 1” slices
6 lg. eggs
1-1/2 cups milk
1 T. vanilla extract
powdered sugar

Combine brown sugar and butter in a 13” x 9” baking dish. Add blueberries and strawberries, tossing to coat well, then spread evenly on bottom of dish. Arrange slices of bread over fruit. Beat eggs, milk, and vanilla together. Pour evenly over bread, soaking bread completely. Cover with foil and place in refrigerator overnight. Bake covered in a preheated 375 degree oven 40 minutes. Remove foil. Bake an additional 5 minutes. Remove from oven and let stand for 5 minutes before cutting. Sprinkle powdered sugar over each piece before serving.



How do you celebrate 4th of July? Post a comment this week to be entered in the drawing for a free book from our Book Club Friday guest author. -- AP

Monday, June 28, 2010

CRAFTS WITH ANASTASIA--FLOSS DOLLS

These no-sew, easy-to-make dolls can be made into jewelry as pins, necklaces, or hair ornaments by gluing the dolls to jewelry findings, combs, headbands, etc.  Attached them to sweatshirts, sneakers, or pocketbooks.  Use them as Christmas ornaments or on plant pokes.  Use them to decorate gift boxes.  The possibilities are endless!  They also make great crafts projects for the female tweens and teens in your family.


Materials:
12” lt. pink chenille stem
18mm painted wooden bead head
flesh and assorted colors 6-strand embroidery floss
tacky glue
wooden skewer or wire (optional for making curly hair)
jewelry glue (optional for gluing dolls to jewelry findings, combs, or headbands)

Directions:
1.  Cut chenille stem into a 4” length and 8” length.  Bend 8” length in half for body.

2.  Glue bead onto folded end of chenille stem.

3.  Wrap 4” length around folded piece 1/8” below bead for arms.  Bend ends of arms and legs under ¼” for hands and feet.

4.  When wrapping floss around chenille stems, secure the floss at the beginning and end with a small amount of glue at the back of the doll.  Beginning directly under bead and following arrows on diagram, wrap floss around chenille stems, wrapping around neck first, then down one arm, back up arm and down next arm.  Wrap up second arm.  Crisscross floss several times at junction of arms and body to cover chenille stem completely.  Wrap down body for ¾”, then separately down one leg, back up the leg, down the second leg, back up the leg, then back up the body and neck.

5.  Using various colors of floss, create clothing for doll, wrapping in the same manner over the flesh colored floss.  Make long or short sleeves.  To form a skirt, wrap floss over both legs for desired length of skirt.  For pants, wrap each leg individually.  Make socks and shoes by wrapping feet.  Create patterns and accessories by gluing on individual lengths of floss to form stripes and plaids, a belt, etc.

6.  Glue floss around bead to create hair.  To make curly hair, wrap floss around a wooden skewer or wire.  Wet floss.  Allow to dry thoroughly before unwrapping.  Cut curled floss into lengths.  Fold each length in half and glue folded center to bead.  Repeat to cover bead.



Our guest author on Book Club Friday is giving away a free book this week. To be entered in the drawing, all you have to do is post a comment during the week. So let's hear from you! --AP

Saturday, June 26, 2010

THIS WEEK'S BOOK WINNER


Thanks to all who stopped by this week at Killer Crafts & Crafty Killers. We hope you'll come back often and also tell your friends about us. We have lots of exciting posts and guests planned for the months ahead. I’d also like to thank Mary Jane Maffini and Charlotte Adams for being our Book Club Friday guest author and “closet” sleuth yesterday and for offering a copy of Organize Your Corpse to one of our readers who posted a comment this week. The winner this week is Kittycat. Kittycat, please email your mailing address to me at anastasiapollack@gmail.com. I’ll forward your address to Mary Jane, and she’ll mail your book to you. Happy reading! -- Anastasia

Friday, June 25, 2010

BOOK CLUB FRIDAY -- GUEST AUTHOR MARY JANE MAFFINI

Today’s Book Club Friday guest is Charlotte Adams, the creation of award-winning mystery writer Mary Jane Maffini. In addition to the four Charlotte Adams books, the very prolific Mary Jane is the author of the Camilla MacPhee series, the Fiona Silk adventures and nearly two dozen short stories. Visit Mary Jane at www.maryjanemaffini.com

Mary Jane has graciously offered a copy of
Organize Your Corpse, the first book in the Charlotte Adams series, to one of our readers. Simply post a comment to the blog to be entered in the drawing. -- AP

 Charlotte Adams here! I guess you could call me the ‘star’ of the Charlotte Adams mysteries. I am thrilled to be a guest at Killer Crafts and Crafty Killers. Honestly, it’s great to take a break from work for once. Between running
Organized for Success, my own professional organizing business, and finding myself pulled into investigating weird murders every couple of months, I barely have time to indulge my own hobby: collecting shoes.

I’m looking forward to this chat, although I am more familiar with crafty killers in the dictionary sense of ‘crafty’ being marked by underhandedness, deviousness, or deception. I suppose if I’d realized just how crafty some of these villains were, I might have thought twice about moving back to my home town of Woodbridge, New York, on the scenic Hudson.

Never mind. It’s the perfect place for me, reconnecting with my childhood friends – the misfits – in our friendly and historic town. It’s also a great way to make a living. I believe in the power of organizing. I think my writer, Mary Jane Maffini, does too, although you might not believe it from the look of her office right at the moment. “Deadlines! You wait until this #$%^ book is finished,” she puffs. I have tried to explain to her that a few minutes at the start or the end of each day would mean a much more manageable work space.

But never mind that either. I’m getting a bit off topic. I am told that I can be just the tiniest bit obsessive and even bossy. I mean really, what’s that about?

Today would seem to be a good opportunity to pass on to you crafty types a few tips that were useful to my author. She says ‘creator’, but I think that just screams hubris. She’s crafty too. In the sense that she loves to knit, sew, draw, garden, and attempt to train her miniature dachshunds (who are a lot like my own Truffle and Sweet Marie). She’s also hooked on television crime shows.

Last year she started carrying on about not having time for hobbies as she had three (!!!) series to manage. I bit my tongue and barely managed not to say that only one was really important. I respect my ‘sister’ characters too much for that. But back to topic.  I sat down and had a chat with her about a strategy. Well, I sat down. Mary Jane was stretched out on the sofa with a book. Did I mention she’s also addicted to mysteries?

“It’s all about choices and timing,” I said gently but firmly. I don’t huff or rant or shriek, no matter what she claims in the books. “Why not focus on one craft or hobby per season? You won’t feel so frazzled and you have to admit the price is right.”  I noticed Mary Jane eyeing me over the top of the book.  Maybe this once she was listening. I continued, “Remember how helpful you found my storage suggestion using clear plastic salad boxes for your ever-expanding stash of yarn?  You can see what yarn is where and you can stack them right up to the ceiling. They’re free too.” That may have been a nod.

Believe it or not, this worked for her. Concentrating on one hobby at a time, she got the new cushion covers done for the deck in the spring and knit a half-dozen of dog sweaters and one child sweater while glued to TV crime shows in the winter. To tell the truth, the garden has looked better and she has yet to pick up her sketch pad this year, but she tells me she’s very glad to have her knitting hobby back. She may have even said ‘thanks.’ Or that might have been a hiccup. Whatever. I’m here to serve.  And I have lots of ideas to help her out.

I love helping other people, not just her, and offer a bonanza of organizing tips in every Charlotte Adams book. They’re at the head of each chapter. Being adult readers, you are free to read and ignore or even skip over them.  I can accept that. I hope to meet you on the pages of Closet Confidential, my fourth outing as an amateur sleuth. It launches on July 6th. Mary Jane promises me I won’t have to worry about duct tape or fires or broken glass in this one. That’s a relief, although I don’t want to let my guard down. I hope you’ll drop in. I’m sure you will be safe. But keep in mind: show me your closets and you show me your secrets.

Thank you, Mary Jane, for allowing Charlotte to stop by today. Anyone want to read more about Charlotte? Post a comment to the blog to be entered in the drawing for Organize Your Corpse, Charlotte’s first adventure. -- AP

Thursday, June 24, 2010

FASHION WITH ERICA -- ROMPERS

Marlys Vandenburg, American Woman’s fashion editor, was supposed to blog about fashion trends from time to time, but as you’ll quickly learn once you read Assault With a Deadly Glue Gun, Marlys isn’t about to do anything she doesn’t want to do. And Marlys doesn’t want to blog. She’s made that perfectly clear. So I’ve asked her assistant Erica Milano to step in. Erica was happy to oblige. -- AP

Hi, blog readers! This is assistant fashion editor Erica Milano. Marlys says that rompers are going to be big this summer. Frankly, I have my doubts. Every couple of years the fashion industry carts out romper designs, only to have them languish in closets after one wearing.

Why? I asked some of the other editors who have been around to see more fashion trends come and go than I have. Whether like finance editor Sheila Conway, the rompers remind you of the 1-pc. gym uniforms of your youth, or like food editor Cloris McWerther, who remembers (with little fondness) the jumpsuit craze of the disco era, everyone hates the idea of rompers for the same reason: Every single time you have to go to the little girls’ room, you have to get COMPLETELY UNDRESSED!

So no matter what Marlys declares as de rigueur this season, unless you have incredible bladder control and can hold it in for at least 7 or 8 hours, ignore her. No one wants to spend the day in a fashion statement that requires undressing and redressing a dozen times throughout the course of the day. Save your money, and slip into a comfy pair of shorts and T-shirt instead.

LOL! I guess Erica doesn’t have to worry that Marlys will see her post. After all, Marlys has better things to do than read this blog. So…what fashion faux pas do you have hanging up in your closet? Let’s hear from you. Remember, anyone who posts a comment this week is entered in the drawing for a free book from our Book Club Friday guest author. -- AP

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

GUEST MELINDA LEIGH, SELF-DEFENSE INSTRUCTOR

Today at Killer Crafts & Crafty Killers I’d like to introduce you to a special guest, author and self-defense instructor Melinda Leigh. Melinda holds a 2nd degree black belt in Kenpo Karate and studies Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. She's also a founding member of the Liberty States Fiction Writers.  Melinda lives in the NJ suburbs with her husband, two kids, and a whole bunch of animals.  Her romantic suspense fiction has won writing awards across the country.
Melinda hosts Fight Like a Girl Southern NJ, a blog featuring effective and easy to learn self-defense for women. She’s also one of the bloggers at Attacking the Page, a blog about Martial Arts & Writing Action. Melinda, along with fellow bloggers Rayna Vause and Kathy Fawcett, will be stopping by Killer Crafts & Crafty Killers from time to time to offer practical safety tips for women. You can also visit Melinda at her website-- AP

SAFETY TIP OF THE WEEK: USING PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION
Many people rely on trains and buses for transportation.  Unfortunately,  predators of all sorts troll these areas as well.   The following tips can help make your trip a safe one.
When riding on a bus or train, have your ticket or change ready so you do not have to get your wallet out.  Always wait in a well-lit area for your bus or train and wait near other people.  If possible, meet a friend there to wait with you, or even better, travel together.  A lone traveler is always more of a target than a group.  There’s safety in numbers.  If you do end up on the bus or train alone, sit close to the driver.   Don’t fall asleep.  Stay awake and alert at all times.  Don’t get so caught up in texting a friend or reading a book that you fail to notice who gets on and off.  You don’t need to stare to know who is around you and what they are doing.  Sit in an aisle seat so you won’t be blocked in. Keep your belongings on your person, with your purse strap over your shoulder and larger bags between your feet.
When you reach your destination, pay attention to who gets off at your stop.  If you think you are being followed, use the go-to-people principal.  Let the person know you see him and know where he is at all times.  If possible, have someone waiting for you, especially if your stop is isolated or dark.   If you’re going out with friends, make a pact that you will all leave together and make sure no one gets left behind.
Great tips, Melinda. Thanks for sharing, and we'll all look forward to seeing you, Rayna, and Kathy stopping by occasionally with more safety tips. Readers, do you have safety concerns? Let's hear from you. Anyone who posts a comment this week is entered in the drawing for a free book from out guest author on Book Club Friday. -- AP




Tuesday, June 22, 2010

COOKING WITH CLORIS --CHICKEN PANZANELLA

Cloris has another super hot weather meal for us today, a twist on the traditional Panzanella. Trust me, this is as delicious as it sounds! Cloris tells me the recipe serves 6, but she doesn’t have to feed two growing (and growing and growing) teenage boys. If you have a couple of those in your house, the recipe only serves 4. -- AP

CHICKEN PANZANELLA
(serves 4-6)
Ingredients:
3 cups cubed sourdough bread
2 lg. ripe tomatoes cut in chunks
1 med. onion, chopped
2 cloves minced garlic
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 T. red wine vinegar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 med. zucchini
1/2 seedless cucumber
1 cup mini-mozzarella balls
2 cups cut up cooked chicken

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a jelly-roll pan with foil. Arrange bread in single layer. Toast 10 minutes or until evenly browned. (Toss once.)

Combine tomatoes, onion, garlic, oil, vinegar, and salt in bowl. Let stand at room temperature 45 minutes, tossing occasionally.

Quarter zucchini and cucumber lengthwise. Cut into 3/4” pieces. Add zucchini and cucumber to bowl. Add mozzarella and chicken. Let stand at least 15 minutes before serving.

Add bread just before serving, tossing to blend all ingredients.


Another winning dinner recipe from Cloris! Isn't she fabulous? Let's hear from you. Anyone who posts a comment this week is entered into the drawing for a free book from our Book Club Friday guest author. -- AP

Monday, June 21, 2010

CRAFTS WITH ANASTASIA--CROSS STITCH TIPS

Ever wonder why I chose a background of embroidery floss for the Killer Crafts & Crafty Killers blog?  Simple.  I love to cross stitch!  I wish I had time to cross stitch more often, but it’s kind of hard to squeeze in a few relaxing hours of stitching when there always seems to be something else that needs doing -- like figuring out how to pay off dead hubby’s loan shark.  Someday I may be able to get back to my favorite pastime and wile away the hours with a piece of linen, a tapestry needle, and all those gorgeous DMC floss colors.  In the meantime, I’ve got some cross stitching tips to share with those of you who do manage to squeeze in some cross stitching time from time to time. -- AP  

To prevent linen, Aida cloth, and evenweave from creasing when not working on a project, roll the fabric in acid free tissue paper and place it inside a cardboard tube.  Use empty tubes from toilet tissue for small projects and plastic wrap or foil for larger projects.

If you prefer to use a hoop when you stitch, always remove your stitching from the hoop when not working on it.  Plastic hoops are preferable to wooden or metal ones which may stain your fabric.  If you prefer to use wood or metal, prevent staining by sandwiching your fabric between two sheets of muslin before inserting into the hoop.  Carefully cut out the muslin to 1” from hoop.

If you’re a mom, chances are you’re also the family chauffeur.  Ever think of keeping a project in the glove compartment of your car?  Pull it out to work on while you’re waiting to pick up the kids from school or soccer.  No kids?  Bring your project along when you have a doctor’s appointment.  You’ll enjoy stitching a lot more than leafing through those outdated magazines in the waiting room.

Here are two tips for take-along projects.  Instead of balancing a chart on your lap, stitch half of each  cross stitch throughout the project when you can do so at home.  Complete the stitches whenever you have a few minutes of “wait” time.  Another tip is to stitch the perimeter of large areas of solid color.  Fill in the areas during those “wait” times.

Look for more cross stitch and other crafting tips in future columns.  Meanwhile, what are some of your favorite stitching tips? Anyone who posts a comment this week is entered into the drawing for a free book from our Book Club Friday guest author. -- AP

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Thanks to all who stopped by this week at Killer Crafts & Crafty Killers. We hope you'll come back often and also tell your friends about us. We have lots of exciting posts and guests planned for the months ahead. I’d also like to thank Mary Kennedy for being our Book Club Friday guest author yesterday and offering a copy of each book in her Talk Radio series to one of our readers who posted a comment this week. The winner this week is Janet. Janet, please email your mailing address to me at anastasiapollack@gmail.com. I’ll forward your address to Rob, and he’ll mail your book to you. Happy reading! -- Anastasia

Friday, June 18, 2010

BOOK CLUB FRIDAY -- GUEST AUTHOR MARY KENNEDY

Today at Book Club Friday, I’d like to welcome multi-published author Mary Kennedy. Mary is a licensed psychologist and the author of the Talk Radio Mysteries. Dead Air was the first book in the series. Reel Murder is her latest release. In this series, described as "Frasier” meets “Murder She Wrote,” Maggie Walsh leaves her clinical psychology practice in Manhattan to move to sunny Cypress Grove, a small south Florida town. She joins the staff of local radio station WYME (great name, huh?) to host a daily talk show called “On the Couch with Maggie Walsh” where she dispenses humor, advice and a few psychological insights. And then the murders start.

You can visit Mary at www.marykennedy.net. Mary has graciously offered a copy of both Dead Air and Reel Murder to one lucky reader here at Killer Crafts & Crafty Killers. All you have to do to be eligible is post a comment. -- AP

WHEN WRITERS GET TOGETHER: THE HART TO HEART PROJECT


It all began with Carolyn Hart.

When Carolyn heard that I was sending a few books and home-made goodies to the 389th Renegades in Iraq, she made an interesting offer. “Let me send twenty pounds of coffee, snacks and home-made goodies to celebrate the publication of Laughed ‘Til He Died. And some autographed books. It’s the twentieth release in the Death on Demand series, and this would be a nice way to commemorate the event.”

Nice?  It was fabulous!  A very generous offer, indeed. I was thrilled.  We decided to call it the “Hart to Heart Project.” 

Carolyn was as good as her word, sending more than twenty pounds of goodies and books to the troops.

But it didn’t stop there. We received such a positive response from the “389th Renegades,” that we kept on going.  We had to! They said they loved these boxes from home.

Other writers heard about the project and joined us.  Kate Collins sent autographed copies of some wonderful titles in her FlowerShop Mysteries. JB Stanley sent not only autographed copies of The Supper Club Mysteries and the Hope Street Church Mysteries,  but a big box of goodies. When Beth Ciotta heard about the project, she sent autographed copies of her fabulous romantic comedies featuring the irrepressible Evie Parish. Julie Hyzy joined in with an autographed copy of Eggsective Orders, one of her terrific White House Chef Mysteries. Jim Ciullo sent Maracaibo, Robin Burcell sent The Bone Chamber  and Kristan Higgins sent The Next Best Thing.

Carolyn and I were amazed at the outpouring of support. Carolyn kept sending goody boxes and copies of her mysteries. Meanwhile,  I kept making Kahlua brownies (five batches at a time!)  and shipping them. Since the 389th is a “sustainment division,” offering food, coffee, drinks and snacks, to convoys passing through, all the goodies were gobbled up and the books were cherished.

The 389th is coming home soon and all of us have fond memories of our friendships with the brave men and women serving in Iraq. And oh yes, we sent more than 200 pounds of home-made goodies and books. 200 pounds! Carolyn Hart’s “celebration” blossomed in a way that none of us could have expected.

The generosity of my fellow writers is truly an inspiration to me. When writers pull together, nothing can stop us.

Very inspirational, Mary. Thanks so much for sharing that with us. Remember, if you’d like to be eligible for the drawing to win copies of Mary’s two books, just post a comment. The winner will be announced tomorrow.-- AP

                 

Thursday, June 17, 2010

BEAUTY WITH NICOLE--LATHER, RINSE, REPEAT -- FACT OR FICTION?

American Woman beauty editor Nicole Emmerling stops by today to answer a question every woman has asked at one time or another. -- AP

Thanks, Anastasia. Nicole here. Lather, rinse, repeat. Those three words appear on every bottle of shampoo I’ve ever seen. Recently, though, I’ve noticed tips for saving money that include dropping the “repeat” part. Do so, and you extend the life of your shampoo by 100%. If you buy expensive salon brand shampoos, that's a significant savings. But if you don’t “repeat,” will your hair get as clean as it should?

I decided to do a bit of research to determine whether “lather, rinse, repeat” is a myth.  Here’s what I found:

The expert at About.com was emphatic about following the shampoo bottle advice, stating that the first lathering should be to clean your scalp and remove the sebum (oil) and hair products that build up between shampooings. The second lathering is to wash the hair itself.

But then I checked out what the experts at Good Housekeeping had to say, and they claimed that “lather, rinse, repeat” is a myth, that one thorough washing is all you need.

As I continued to research the subject, I found my results were split evenly down the middle. 

So…to repeat or not to repeat? That is the question. My solution? As in so many things in life, there’s no simple answer. Much will depend on how often you wash your hair and how much hair product you use. So I say, wash your hair once. If it doesn’t feel clean enough to you, wash it again.

Where do you stand on the "lather, rinse, repeat" issue? Let's hear from you. Post a comment and be eligible to win a book from our Book Club Friday guest author this week. -- AP

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

DECORATING WITH JEANIE -- EASY OUTDOOR ENTERTAINING

Here are some hints for great green outdoor entertaining this summer from our decorating editor Jeanie Sims: -- AP

The best way to entertain outdoors is one that keeps clean-up to a minimum, but paper goods are a huge expense and clog up our landfills. Instead, buy a set of plastic dishes, utensils, and beverage cups. You can find these at big box stores. Don’t skimp of the quality, though. You want to buy the good stuff that will hold up to repeated trips through the dishwasher. If you do a lot of outdoor entertaining over the summer, the service won’t cost you any more than you’d pay for paper goods throughout the season, and you’ll have them for seasons to come.

No place to store another set of dishes and beverage ware? No problem! After they’re washed, store them in your cooler.  Everything will be right at hand for your next barbeque.

Scatter oversized beach towels around the yard for guests to eat picnic style.  Instead of paper napkins, substitute inexpensive dish clothes from the dollar store. Just pop everything in the washing machine when the evening is over.

Finally, go for Christmas in June, July, and August by stringing up your holiday lights along your deck railing.

What sort of outdoor entertaining do you do? Let us know, and you could win a book from our Book Club Friday guest author. -- AP

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

COOKING WITH CLORIS -- BLUEBERRY YOGURT MOLD

Today Cloris offers up an easy-to-make dessert that's the perfect light ending to a summer barbecue. -- AP


BLUEBERRY YOGURT MOLD


2 envelopes unflavored gelatin
1/8 tsp. salt
1/4 cup water
2-8 oz. containers vanilla yogurt
1-12 oz. pkg. frozen blueberries, thawed


In a medium saucepan mix gelatin, salt, and water. Stir over low heat until gelatin is dissolved. Remove from heat. Stir in yogurt and blueberries until blended. Pour into 3-cup mold. Chill until set. Unmold to serve.


Sounds yummy, doesn't it? Just make sure the mold is totally set before you unmold it! Sad to say, I'm speaking from experience here, kitchen klutz that I am. What's your ideal dessert after the hot dogs and hamburgers? Let's hear from you. You could wind up winning a book from our Friday Book Club author. -- AP

Monday, June 14, 2010

CRAFTS WITH ANASTASIA--GUEST DESIGNER EILEEN HULL


Today I’d like to introduce you to designer Eileen Hull, a freelance designer, author, and licensed artist with Sizzix. Eileen’s company, Paperwork, Etc. started 20 years ago to fill a need at a military post for unit welcomes, farewells, and baby gifts. She has since branched out into the civilian sector. You can read more about Eileen at both her website and blog. Welcome, Eileen! -- AP

Good morning all! Special greetings to Anastasia’s fans.

Today is Flag Day. 

The flag holds a very special place in my heart as we are a military family. My husband served 20 years in the army so our family has seen a few moves! My son and daughter-in-law are active duty army officers and one of my daughters and her new fiancĂ© both serve in the Coast Guard. I admit that I tear up (cry like a baby actually) at parades, ceremonies, baseball games and pretty much anywhere I hear “The Star Spangled Banner”.

Today at noon EST, I’ll be appearing as a guest on Cool2Craft, a live web TV show, where I will present an inspiration piece that I did in honor of Flag Day. The segment, called Too Cool, features the work of various designers who find an item that inspires them to create and then comes on the show and talks about their creative process and displays the finished piece. It could be something as simple as looking at a flower out in the yard and coming inside and making a paper flower. How are you inspired? I hope you can join me for the show!

Here’s my inspiration photo. It’s the cover of a trade show magazine that I get. What would you do with this? Tune in to Cool2Craft to see the unveiling! Or, visit my blog where the project will be posted after the show.

My heart is with our veterans, to all who serve, have served and are in harm’s way… We are able to celebrate this holiday because of them. Happy Flag Day!
Thanks for stopping by, Eileen! I hope many of my readers will be able to catch your show today. So what inspires all of you to be creative? Let's hear from you. Post a comment this week, and you'll be entered into the drawing for a free book by our Book Club Friday guest author. -- AP

Saturday, June 12, 2010

THIS WEEK'S BOOK GIVEAWAY WINNER

Thanks to all who stopped by this week at Killer Crafts & Crafty Killers. We hope you'll come back often and also tell your friends about us. We have lots of exciting posts and guests planned for the months ahead. I’d also like to thank Rob Walker for being our Book Club Friday guest author yesterday and offering a copy of City of the Absent to one of our readers who posted a comment this week. The winner this week is Chris Redding. Chris, please email your mailing address to me at anastasiapollack@gmail.com. I’ll forward your address to Rob, and he’ll mail your book to you. Happy reading! -- Anastasia

Friday, June 11, 2010

BOOK CLUB FRIDAY -- GUEST AUTHOR ROB WALKER: CAN WE TALK? DIALOGUE CAN BE SO ROMANTIC

It’s Book Club Friday at Killer Crafts & Crafty Killers, and today’s guest is Rob Walker, author of Children of Salem and Dead On, to name just a couple of his books. Today Rob is going to discuss dialogue and romance in his writing. You can find Rob at the Dirty Deed and Make Mine Mystery blogs and at his website. Rob is also giving away a copy of City of the Absent, historical fiction featuring Inspector Alastair Ransom, to one lucky blog reader. All you have to do to be eligible to win is post a comment. -- AP

                                                                       
Let’s start with the face but don’t forget the cuticles either.

Whose face? Why the face of the Speaker in the Rye, or rather the novel, and the features of the other speaker as dialogue means 2-logues, not one.  Facial expressions and features are a starting point. Squints, ticks, licking of lips – it all becomes part and parcel of how it all comes off the page like life itself or remains on the page like a dead, dehydrated piece of road kill.

In other words, it is not only what she says to him, but how he reacts to it; his facial expressions, his hands moving, his breathing, and then how she looks in reaction to his reaction.  In my Dead On I intended for the duo to have a Bogey and Bacall relationship while they are being hunted like animals!  In Children of Salem the lovers are a great deal more tentative with one another; after all, they have not seen one another for ten years as Jere went off to make his mark in order to feel worthy of her.

Nowadays we know so much about non-verbal communication in men and women, that in my humble opinion, after penning some fifty novels from the POV of the female lead and the male lead and many shared leads, I feel strongly about one element in all mysteries – that there be an element of love and romance afoot alongside the dastardly stuff.  That it is incumbent upon us writers of mystery to understand the greatest mystery of all is romance and historical romance. To that end we must absolutely get with the program and utilize from three to five non-verbal “triangulations” in a scene just as we would triangulate at least three to five senses in a scene.

In a dialogue scene eye contact is huge, facial expressions, big, sounds, sighs, rolling eyes, as well as gestures and even how a character sits, legs crossed or not, and how he stands, firm or shaky. Posture and proximity.  These are all key to making dialogue action rather than feeling like inaction. Think of those steamy scenes between Bogey and Bacall wherein she says so much with so little and he does likewise.

So what does science tell us about body language? Here is a pretty good list of items that I use as I write:


Non-verbal signs of Cooperation:  
Standing with feet apart, head tilted high
Direct eye-contact
Uncrossed legs and arms
Open arms and palms out
Finger to face (as opposed to hand covering face)

Suspicion/Secretiveness:
Hand covering mouth or shading eyes
Head down
Throat clearing

Need for reassurance:
Sucking on pen, pencil, glasses or other item
Clenched hands
Cuticle picking, biting nails
Hand to throat

Defensiveness:
Hands in pockets
Hands locked at back
Hand rubbing back of neck
Body twisted away
Stalling for time by cleaning glasses, pipe, rearranging, etc.

Interest:
Hand to cheek
Chin stroking
Leaning forward
Scratching head

Doubt:
Pacing
Hand over nose
Brow furrowed

Anxiety:
Nail biting
Strained voice
Rapid eye movements

Open Gestures:
Smiles
Eye contact
Affirmative head nods
Rubbing hands together
Interim phrases of agreement or acknowledgement (Eh? Uh-huh? Hmmm, oh, etc.)

Closed Gestures:
Fidgeting
Leaning back (as opposed to forward)
Hand covering mouth
Peering over top of glasses

In other words, it is as important to see/hear what a character says but just as important to see and hear what is going on between the spoken lines, alternating with interesting actions the character is involved in and engaged in. This keeps the dialogue interwoven with the action, and the action engaged while speakers speak. Let your characters do the walking as well as the talking simultaneously as they have wine and a meal.

Action should not end when a character opens her mouth to “speak.” Same as with thinking; we are in real life normally involved in multi-tasking as we are thinking, no?  Same as when speaking. Your dialogue needs to walk; your dialogue requires legs. When the man says, “Lights, camera, action” include in that list “dialogue” but ratchet it UP!

Do leave your comments!  And thanks to Anastasia for having me!

Rob

Thanks for joining us today, Rob, and for providing our readers with both a sneak peek into how an author creates characters who come alive and a chance to win one of your books. -- AP

                       
            

Thursday, June 10, 2010

BEAUTY WITH NICOLE--NATURAL PRODUCTS FOR A NATURAL LOOK

The newest trend in beauty is the “natural” look. Yeah, right! Most of us don’t look all that hot au natural. And the older we get, the greater the flaws that need masking. That trowel look is so wrong, though. Our beauty editor Nicole Emmerling has the secret to looking natural while covering up the stuff you don’t want others to see.-- AP

And that secret, Anastasia, is mineral make-up. Mineral make-up is not just for “women of a certain age,” though. It’s great for anyone with problematic skin, whether you have acne, rosacea, or other skin issues.  Mineral make-up is a natural product for a natural look.

Regular make-up adds talc, colors, fillers, chemicals, and weight to your skin. Mineral make-up is natural, weightless and invisible, yet it covers minor flaws beautifully. And it’s both non-comedogenic and inert, so that if your problem is sensitive skin, your less likely to have a reaction from it. What mineral make-up does contain is zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, both of which provide sunscreen protection.

Although mineral make-up isn’t cheap, you’ll find you’ll need to use a lot less of it than regular make-up to achieve the same coverage. The biggest mistake women make when first switching to mineral make-up is that they use too much. Use less than you think you’ll need. You’ll be surprised at how well mineral make-up covers.

Another great beauty tip from Nicole! Have any of you tried mineral make-up? What do you think of it? Let’s hear from you. Everyone who posts a comment this week is entered in the drawing for a book from our Book Club Friday guest author. -- AP

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

HEALTHY LIVING WITH JANICE--HICCUPS

Ever have a fit of hiccups? If you have, you know how annoying they are. In public they’re also downright embarrassing because everyone stares at you. Or they think it’s funny and start laughing at you. Believe me, there’s nothing funny about hiccups, and if you’ve ever been plagued by them, you know what I mean. The other day I started hiccupping right in the middle of a staff meeting! That was the end of the staff meeting. No one could concentrate on anything other than me and the sounds erupting from my mouth. Someone (and I’m not mentioning any names, but she knows I know who she is, and I’ll get even one of these days) had the audacity to start an office pool over how long my hiccups would last.

There have been home remedies for dealing with hiccups for generations. Do any of them work? I asked our health editor Janice Kerr to do a bit of research on the subject. Here’s what she found. 
-- AP





Janice here. Poor Anastasia really had it bad the other day. We did finally cure her with one of the remedies below. As for the office pool, all I can say is I didn’t start it, but my wallet thanks whomever did.

On to the serious stuff -- Hiccups are a reflex that occurs when the vagus nerve is irritated and causes your diaphragm to spasm. The diaphragm is the muscle that enables you to inhale and exhale. The most common cause of hiccups is digestive disturbance -- eating too fast, eating and talking at the same time, eating hot and spicy foods, indigestion, bloating, drinking too much alcohol -- but hiccups can occur for no reason at all.

There are lots of home remedies for hiccups. It’s believed that they work for one of two reasons. Some overwhelm the vagus nerve with another sensation. Others interfere with breathing, thus causing the body to turn its attention to getting rid of carbon dioxide and forgetting about the hiccups.

Not every one of these remedies will work for everyone suffering from hiccups, and some may not work for anyone. There are a lot of old wives tales floating around about curing hiccups. But if you’re the one suffering, you’ll try anything, right? One or more of these just might work for you. (Note: if the hiccupping persists for more than 24 hours, see a doctor. It could be a symptom of a more serious health problem.)

  • Hold your breath
  • Gargle with water
  • Eat a teaspoon of sugar
  • Drink a glass of soda quickly
  • Drink a glass of ice water quickly
  • Place an ice pack on your diaphragm
  • Eat a teaspoon of peanut butter
  • Sniff black pepper
  • Sip a cup of water with a little baking soda sprinkled in it
  • Take a deep breath and hold it as long as you can
  • Drink a squeezed lemon
  • Place your fingers in your ears while slowly sipping water (use a straw)
  • Have someone scare the hiccups out of you
  • Pull on your tongue
  • Tickle the roof of your mouth with a cotton swab
  • Breath into a paper bag
  • Take an antacid
  • Chew and swallow dry bread
  • Suck on crushed ice



Do you have a hiccup remedy that works? Let’s hear from you. Post a comment this week, and your entered in the drawing for a book from our Book Club Friday guest author. -- AP

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

COOKING WITH CLORIS -- SKINNY ITALIAN DRESSING

Just in time for swimsuit season, Cloris has whipped out her Skinny Italian Dressing recipe. Of course, you can use it on a toss salad, but I've found it's yummy mixed into tuna or egg salad instead of mayo.-- AP


SKINNY ITALIAN DRESSING


1 cup plain low-fat yogurt
1/2 a small onion, chopped
2 T. red wine vinegar
1 tsp. sugar
3/4 tsp. Italian seasoning
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. garlic powder


Place all ingredients into a blender. Blend on medium speed for about 15 seconds or until smooth. Chill several hours before serving.


How else might you use Skinny Italian Dressing? Let's hear from you. Post a comment, and your entered in the drawing for a book by this week's Book Club Friday guest author. -- AP

Monday, June 7, 2010

CRAFTS WITH ANASTASIA--GUEST DESIGNER LORINE MASON

Today I have a special treat for my readers. I’ve asked designer Lorine Mason to do a guest blog along with a sewing project. This project is a bit more involved than the ones I usually feature on Killer Crafts & Crafty Killers, but everyone needs a challenge once in a while, right?

Lorine is a free-lance project designer and licensing artist. She appears regularly on the webcast crafting program, Cool2Craft with her Sew Far Sew Good creations. Visit Lorine at www.DivaSchmivas.com or check out her blog at  www.thedivaschmivas.blogspot.com -- AP


Hi everyone,
I am tickled pink to be offering you a peek into my world of sewing and crafting. My studio is filled to the brim with fascinating fabrics, trims, threads and embellishments purchased through the sewing world. It is a good base, but wait.  Add to the mix my collection of paints, glitter, stamps, die cutting paraphernalia, beads, metal, wood and more, and you really have something with which to create. 

I am fascinated by doorways, just think of the possibilities of not only what the doorway itself might look like but what might surround it. Does it sport a crown of some sort, and most exciting of all, what is behind it? I have been creating doorways for some time now and have an ongoing series currently being published in Creative Home Arts for throughout 2010.  Here is a sneak peek and for more, check out www.creativehomearts.com

Anastasia asked me to provide a crafty project for her readers. My good friend Brenda Pinnick designed a line of fabrics for Henry Glass and sent me a few cuts of the fabric. I became inspired, and here is what I came up with:

SEW ART QUILT 
by Lorine Mason

Materials:
1/2 yard cotton print fabric; fat quarters of two coordinating prints; 12” x 18” pieces WoolFelt® –Native Maize, Pink Violet, Baby Blue, and White; cotton batting; fusible web; Fantasy Film™ fusible film – Mother of Pearl; metal brads – Flower & Mini; sheer floral accents – five
alphabet stickers; embroidery thread; non-stick ironing sheet; die cutting machine & dies (optional); sewing machine; iron; basic sewing supplies, including a twin needle.

1. Cut two 16” x 19” rectangles from the cotton print, cut one from the cotton batting.

2. Layer one of the fabric rectangles on top of the batting and pin around the outside edges.

3. Press fusible webbing to the back of the wool blend felt rectangles. Cut the following:
Baby Blue – one 9” x 12”; Native Maize – one 6” x 10” and six 1 3/4” squares; White – one 8” x 11”.

4. Press fusible webbing to the back of a 9” square of one of the coordinating fabric prints.
Cut out six 2 1/2” squares.

5. Using the project photograph as a general guide for placement, remove the paper backing from the fused felt and fabric pieces (with the exception of the six Native Maize squares) and layer them to the center of the fabric rectangle pinned to the batting. Fuse in place.

6. Fit your sewing machine with a twin needle and sew around each of the layers of felt, raising the presser foot and re-inserting the needle in the new direction at each corner turn. Trim threads.

7. Fuse the remaining Native Maize squares to the panel using the project photo as a guide for placement. Stitch around the outside edge of each square.

8. Using the non-stick ironing sheet on both the front and back, press fusible web to the back of a 4” piece of Fantasy Film™. Cut six 1” squares and fuse them to the center of each of the door panels, once again using the non-stick ironing sheet.

9. Using the die cut machine and an assortment of dies, cut the hinges, keyhole, key, sign and flourishes from felt backed with fusible web. Set the keyhole on top of scrap of fused fabric and press. Cut around the image using decorative scissors. Lay out the hinges, keyhole, and signage pieces on top of the quilt panel and press. 
(Note from Anastasia: if you don’t have a die cut machine, you’ll have to freehand these embellishments.)

10. Insert brads at each of the corners of the door panels, hinges, keyhole and signage.

11. Layer the quilt panel on top of the second 16” x 19” piece of fabric cut earlier and pin together. Trim the quilt panel to measure 14” x 18”. See finished sample for guidelines.

12. Stitch around the quilt panel, sewing 1” from the outside edges.

13. Cut 2” bias strips from the remaining coordinating fabric. If necessary join strips to create the appropriate lengths needed to bind the quilt. Sew strips to the top and bottom edge of the quilt, right sides together. Press strips away from the quilt. Repeat sewing strips to the sides of the quilt.

14. Turn under the raw edges of the binding strips and hand stitch to the back of the quilt.

15. Embellish the front of the quilt with additional die cut felt pieces, stickers, floral accents, a bird and thread. Refer back to the project photo for inspiration.

Sources:
“Opulence” fabric by Brenda Pinnick for Henry Glass & Co. ©; Steam-A-Seam 2® from The Warm Company; Fantasy Film from Art Glitter; WoolFelt ® from National Nonwovens;  
diecut machine and dies from Ellison.

So...are you inspired to pull out your sewing machines?  Let's hear from you. Everyone who posts a comment this week is entered into the drawing for a book by our Book Club Friday guest author. -- AP