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.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

ANNOUNCEMENT REGARDING WEEKLY BOOK WINNERS

Hi Everyone!
According to my blog stats, many of you don't get around to reading the Killer Crafts & Crafty Killers blog until Saturday. That means you get shut out of entering the drawings when our Book Club Friday guest authors give away books, since the winners are announced on Saturday mornings. So starting next week, I'll be announcing the winners on Sunday to give you Saturday readers a chance to enter those weekly drawings.


Have a great weekend, everyone!
Anastasia

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 Caridad Pineiro for being our Book Club Friday guest and offering a copy of Sins of the Flesh to one of our readers who posted a comment this week. The winner this week is babyfro. Please email your mailing address to me at anastasiapollack@gmail.com. I’ll forward the information to Caridad, and she’ll mail your book to you. Happy reading! -- Anastasia

Friday, October 29, 2010

BOOK CLUB FRIDAY -- GUEST AUTHOR CARIDAD PINEIRO


Our Book Club Friday guest author today is Caridad Pineiro, a multi-published, award-winning author who writes in a variety of genres, including romance, chick lit, and paranormal romantic suspense. Last year Sins of the Flesh, the first book in Caridad's paranormal romantic suspense Sin series was released. Stronger Than Sin is the second book in the series. Caridad has kindly offered a copy of Sins of the Flesh to one of our readers who posts a comment to the blog this week. You can read more about Caridad at her website and her blog.  -- AP

Paranormal novels are dark, edgy and dangerous, so what better place to set one of those novels than the Jersey Shore.

Wait, rewind.  Did you just say the Jersey Shore?  The real Jersey Shore (and not the show that shall not be named) with the beautiful beaches, quaint towns and historic locations?
Yes, I did set a dark, edgy and action-packed paranormal suspense novel against that sun-drenched locale because it gives me an opportunity to give readers something other than what they expected in a paranormal suspense novel.  Many paranormals and romantic suspense novels are set in and around urban areas and because of that, the locations sometimes have a similar feel.  Changing that up opens up new vistas for readers, but also creates new opportunities as a writer.

In fact, using different and interesting locations will often act as another character in the story.  Writers can not only transport readers to a new place, but juxtapose elements of the story against those backdrops.  For example, in the SINS series, the beauty of the beaches is set against the wildness of the Pine Barrens and the dark tunnels in Fort Hancock in SINS OF THE FLESH.  It is in a home near the beach where the heroine reclaims her life while almost losing it in the darkness of the Pine Barrens and tunnels.

Locations can also be used to provide subtle backstory.  In STRONGER THAN SIN, the hero is literally from the “wrong” side of the tracks and has had to work hard to create a life that provides him the income to purchase one of the luxurious oceanfront homes.  The railroad tracks that run through the various shore towns create not only a physical barrier, but a social one as well.
What else can you achieve by using a different or unexpected location?  How about exposing your readers to new foods and customs for that locale?

In doing research for the SINS series, I’ve discovered quite a number of “down the shore” things to do and I’ve included some of them in the novels.  Some of my favorite “down the shore” things are:

  • Ice cream from Days in Ocean Grove or frozen custard from Kohrs.
  • Tomato pies from Vic’s or Pete and Elda’s.  Don’t confuse them with pizza, because they are quite different.
  • Long strolls along the boardwalks.  Each one has its unique flavor and my favorites are in Asbury Park, Bradley Beach and Ocean Grove.
  • Explore the tent city in Ocean Grove.Sit outside the Auditorium or Stone Pony and listen to the music spilling from within these historic icons.


If you’re an aspiring author, you may be wondering, “But what if I can’t visit that location?”
The Internet is a marvelous thing, but there is one adage that really is true at times:  Write what you know.

Look around you.  Think of the places you have visited and the memories you’ve created.  There is something about having been to a place that lets you add all kinds of details that will ring true with readers.  Take advantage of those personal experiences to improve your story.
“But what if where I live isn’t all that interesting?”  Think of stories like THE STEPFORD WIVES, REVOLUTIONARY ROAD, or the many Debbie Macomber novels set in small towns.  As a writer you can make any location interesting for your readers by using your imagination.

Thanks for taking the time to stop by!  I hope you’ll like the “down the shore” locations and I’d love to hear from you as to what kinds of locales you like to see in your novels.

Thanks, Caridad! This Jersey girl knows those areas well. Readers, what do you think about setting stories in unexpected locales? Post a comment to be entered in the drawing for Sins of the Flesh, and don't forget to check back tomorrow to see if you're the winner. -- AP

Thursday, October 28, 2010

TRAVEL WITH SERENA -- CAR ESSENTIALS, PART 2

Travel editor Serena Brower is back today with more don’t-leave-home-without-them essentials to keep in your car at all times. -- AP

Thanks, Anastasia! These six essentials are in addition to the 10 listed last week.

1. A GPS or smart phone and charger. If you can inch toward an exit, you need to know how to get to your destination via a detour. You can’t study a map as you drive, but you can listen to the sultry tones of the Garmin gal as she directs you around that interstate mess. GPS devices have dropped drastically in price. Trust me, they’re worth every penny, and you’ll soon agree the first time you use one.

2. Water. Never go anywhere without a bottle of water in the car. You don’t want to risk dehydration. That traffic jam you’re sitting in might not have any shade.

3. Snacks. Always have a box of crackers or pretzels handy. If you’re stuck for hours and can’t detour off the main road, you’re going to get hungry.

4. Pre-moistened wipes. They’ll clean your hands and keep you cool inside a hot car. After all, if you’re stuck for any length of time, you’re going to want to turn your engine off to conserve gas and won’t be able to run your AC. Wipes also come in handy when you make pit stops and find the restroom is out of soap.

5. A book. I was once stuck behind a serious accident for 3 hours. I could see my exit about a mile up the road but had no way of getting to it. Unfortunately, I had forgotten to bring a book. Believe me, those were a very long 3 hours.

6. A first-aid kit. With aspirin. You’re going to need it for the headache you’re sure to get while you wait and wait and wait and wait…

Thanks, Serena. I’m off to add these items to my trunk. What about the rest of you? Ever get stuck for hours? How did you deal with it. Let's hear from you. Post a comment to be entered in this week's drawing for a book from our Book Club Friday guest author. -- AP

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

HEALTHY LIVING WITH JANICE--KNOW THE SIGNS OF A STROKE

Think strokes are something that only strike the elderly? Think again. Health editor Janice Kerr is back today with some startling statistic and an easy way to spot the symptoms of a stroke. -- AP

Thanks, Anastasia. Recent statistics show that strokes are on the rise for people between the ages of 20 and 45. Over the past decade incidents of stroke in this age group have risen from 4.5% to 7.3%, most likely from increased rates of obesity and diabetes.

Time is of the essence when treating stroke victims because quick, timely treatment minimizes damage sustained from strokes. So it’s vital the stroke is recognized and treatment sought as soon as possible. For this reason, the National Stroke Association has developed a
FAST trick to help identify symptoms.

Remember
FAST: Face, Arms, Speech, Time.

FACE: Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop?

ARMS: Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?

SPEECH: Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence. Can he or she do it accurately? Are the words slurred?

TIME: If the person has ANY of these symptoms, call 911 or get the person to the hospital immediately.

Thanks so much, Janice! You may have saved a life today. Readers, what sorts of things do you look out for when it comes to your health and the health of your loved ones? Post a comment to be entered in this week's drawing for a book from our Book Club Friday guest author. -- AP

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

COOKING WITH CLORIS--EGG FOO ZUCCHINI ITALIANO

Cloris is back today with another great zucchini recipe, egg foo yung Italian style. -- AP



EGG FOO ZUCCHINI ITALIANO
serves 4

Ingredients:
4 medium zucchini, coarsely grated
1 onion, grated
3 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 clove garlic, minced
olive oil
2 cups tomato sauce, heated
parmesan cheese

Mix zucchini, onion, eggs, flour and garlic together. Heat oil in skillet until hot. Use a tablespoon sized cookie dough scoop to add zucchini mixture to oil. Fry until golden brown, turning once. Drain on paper towels to remove excess oil. Divide zucchini onto 4 plates. Top with heated tomato sauce. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese.

Thanks, Cloris, for yet another yummy way to use up all that zucchini. Readers, what do you think? Will Egg Foo Zucchini Italiano be on your dinner menu tonight? 
Post a comment to be entered in this week's drawing for a book from our Book Club Friday guest author. -- AP

Monday, October 25, 2010

CRAFTS WITH ANASTASIA--BEADED REINDEER ORNAMENT



This cute reindeer ornament is stitched on cross stitch fabric but with seed beads instead of embroidery floss.

Materials:
6” x 6” 14-ct. white Aida cloth
lt. gold, dk. gold, red and green seed beads
beading needle
white sewing thread

Directions:
The beads are stitched onto the fabric with a half-cross stitch. Work across each row using the color bead indicated in the chart. Use lt. gold for the reindeer; dk. gold for the antlers; red for the mouth, nose, and holly berry; and green for the holly, collar, and eye.



Readers, do you have any special holiday traditions you'd like to share? Post a comment to be entered in this week's drawing for a book from our Book Club Friday guest author. -- AP

LAST WEEK'S BOOK WINNER

Thanks to all who stopped by last week at Killer Crafts & Crafty Killers. Sorry the posting of the winner was delayed by several days. I was out of town at a family wedding and unable to select and post the winner on Saturday. I’d also like to thank Sandra Carey Cody for being our Book Club Friday guest last week and offering a copy of PUT OUT THE LIGHT to one of our readers who posted a comment during the week. The winner is Mason Canyon. Mason, please email your mailing address to me at anastasiapollack@gmail.com. I’ll forward the information to Sandra, and she’ll mail your book to you. Happy reading! -- Anastasia

Saturday, October 23, 2010

BOOK WINNER ANNOUNCEMENT DELAYED THIS WEEK

I want to thank Sandra Carey Cody for being this week's Book Club Friday guest author and for offering a copy of PUT OUT THE LIGHT to one of our readers who posted a comment this week. Unfortunately, due to a lack of Internet access this weekend, the winner will be announced early next week. Please check back to see if you're the lucky winner. -- AP

Friday, October 22, 2010

BOOK CLUB FRIDAY -- GUEST AUTHOR SANDRA CAREY CODY

Our guest today for Book Club Friday is Sandra Carey Cody. Sandra is the author of the Jennie Connors mystery series, published by Avalon Books. The first three books are available in bookstores and libraries; number four is coming mid-2011.  These stories explore the challenges facing a single mother as she learns to balance her newfound independence with family and career responsibilities, at the same time solving a mystery in each book. Sandra has graciously offered a copy of PUT OUT THE LIGHT, the first book in the series to one lucky reader who posts a comment this week. To learn more about Sandra, visit her website and her two blogs, Birth of a Novel and Avalon Authors. -- AP

First, thanks for inviting me, Anastasia. I’m thrilled to have a chance to get to know some new folks who love reading, writing and all things crafty as much as I do.

Part of the pleasure of just about any creative endeavor is that it leads you in new directions. And venturing in a new direction for even a short distance adds a new dimension to your creation, whatever it may be.

I write a mystery series set in a retirement community where the residents are lively, alert and just bored enough to stir up trouble. My protagonist is Jennie Connors, who is charged with keeping these residents out of trouble. In each book, I’ve had a different resident use the special wisdom gained from their years of not-too-careful living to help (and sometimes hinder) Jennie in solving the mystery.

One of my favorite characters is Tess, a retired FBI agent whose area of expertise is graphology. In BY WHOSE HAND, she offers her knowledge to help Jennie delve into the psyches of the various suspects.  When I started the book, my understanding of graphology was limited to the generally-accepted notion that if your handwriting travels upward across the page, you’re probably an optimist.  So I headed off to the library to find a book on the subject. (Yes, my handwriting slants upward drastically; I believe I can learn anything if I can find the right book.)

I checked out three from the dozen or so on the shelf. I knew, of course, there was no way I could make myself an expert by reading three books. But that didn’t keep me from having fun with it. The first thing I did was take a couple of sheets of unlined paper and start filling them with random thoughts. I planned to analyze my own handwriting to see if my idea of myself agreed with the examples given by the experts.  I did this before I read the books, so I wouldn’t be tempted to shape my letters to fit the person I’d like to be.

When I had two full pages, I started reading.  I compared the three books, section by section, to see if they agreed in their interpretations of the little peculiarities that distinguish one individual’s script from another’s. With a few exceptions, they did. OK - time to check on my handwriting. For the most part, when I compared my pages with the examples in the books, it was like looking in a mirror–maybe not exactly what I wanted to see, but undeniably recognizable. There were a couple of areas that I thought were off-base, but when I asked my husband if he agreed with them, he laughed and said, “Oh yeah!”

I’m a long way from being an expert on graphology, but I know more about it than I did before – and a little more about myself – always a good thing. The point is – if you’re thinking of trying something new – DO IT.  Don’t worry if you’ll be good at it. Or even if you’ll like it. That doesn’t matter. Maybe you’ll hate it. That’s OK. You can always drop it and move on to the next thing on your list. (I assume everyone has a list.)

Thanks so much for stopping by, Sandra. I’ll bet you’ve given our readers a push to try something new. What about it? Is there something you’ve been meaning to try but haven’t yet gotten around to? Let’s hear from you. Anyone posting a comment this week is entered in the drawing for a copy of PUT OUT THE LIGHT, Sandra’s first Jennie Connors mystery. However, because I'll be without Internet access this weekend, the winner will be announced early next week instead of tomorrow. Don't forget to check back to find out if you're that winner -- AP 

Thursday, October 21, 2010

TRAVEL WITH SERENA -- CAR ESSENTIALS, PART 1



Ever been stuck in a traffic jam for hours? I have. You live in New Jersey, and it’s unavoidable. Travel editor Serena Brower is here today with some don’t-leave-home-without-them essentials for every car trip. Stop back next week for the continuation of the list. -- AP

Thanks, Anastasia! Some of these are really important for those readers who live in cold climates, especially areas that get lots of snow.

1. An aerosol can of instant tire patch.

2. A blanket.

3. A bag of kitty litter. Sprinkle kitty litter under your tires to gain traction if you’re stuck in the mud, snow, or on ice.

4. A flashlight with extra batteries.

5. Two empty coffee cans. The cans have multiple uses. They can scoop snow. A candle in a coffee can will provide some heat. In a bladder emergency, a can will serve as a port-a-potty.

6. Two pillar candles.

7. Matches sealed in a water-tight container.

8. Window scraper.

9. Flares.

10. Extra hat, gloves, and scarf.

Thanks, Serena. I’m off to pack these items in my car right now. What about the rest of you? Ever get stuck for hours? How did you deal with it? Let's hear from you. Everyone who posts a comment this week is entered in the drawing for a free book from our Book Club Friday Guest Author. -- AP

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

DECORATING WITH JEANIE -- QUICK 'N EASY AUTUMN CENTERPIECE


Today decorating editor Jeanie Sims tells you how to make an autumn centerpiece if you have little money and not a creative bone in your body. -- AP

Thanks, Anastasia! One of the quickest ways to spruce up your home for any holiday is with a theme-inspired centerpiece. However, many people cringe at the thought because for them it means spending a fortune on a pre-made centerpiece from the florist, craft, or gift shop. They think they can’t possibly create something on their own and therefore, never try.

Frankly, this is one of the easiest decorating tricks in the book and takes absolutely no talent. Really. Even if you’re all thumbs.

Here’s how you make the autumn centerpiece shown in the photo or one similar to it:

First, find an appropriate container. You don’t have to spend a dime. Everyone has baskets sitting on a shelf in the basement, in a closet, or up in the attic, right? Don’t have one the right size or color? Think outside the box. Literally. Cover a shoe box with wrapping paper. Use several clay flower pots grouped together. Even a serving bowl will work.

Next take a trip to your local crafts store or big box store. Purchase an assortment of fake leaves, greenery, and gourds. Or pick some autumn leaves, pine cones, and evergreen branches from your backyard and buy some real gourds at the supermarket. However, if you buy the fake stuff, you’ll be able to reuse the items year after year.

Now, here’s the easiest part -- take what you purchased and fill your container. Just dump the stuff in. That’s all there is to it! Don’t believe me? Give it a try. You’ll wind up with something that looks like you spent $50 when you really only spent around $5.




Want to craft a centerpiece without spending even that much? The next time you go for a walk around your neighborhood, take a bag with you and collect the pine cones strewn over the ground. When you get home, fill a basket with them. Voila! Instant, cost-free centerpiece! Want to jazz it up a bit? brush the tips with white paint and sprinkle on some silver or gold glitter.

Thanks, Jeanie! What great ideas! So readers, how many of your are going to give these simple decorating tricks a try? Let’s hear from you. Post a comment to be entered in this week’s drawing for a book from our Book Club Friday guest author. -- AP

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

COOKING WITH CLORIS--FROZEN ZUCCHINI

Cloris has a quick and easy, no-cook zucchini storage tip today. -- AP

Thanks, Anastasia! If you planted zucchini this past spring, by now you probably have zucchini up to your eyeballs. Fear not. The first killing frost is on the way, and you will soon be through picking zucchini for the year. However, if you’re someone who likes having lots of zucchini to add to recipes, you don’t have to wait until next year’s bumper crop. Here’s a very easy way to freeze zucchini and stretch the end of your crop throughout the coming winter.

FROZEN ZUCCHINI
Cut zucchinis in half. Scoop out seeds and discard. Shred zucchini in food processor or chop into 1/2 - 3/4” cubes. Place 1 cup amounts of shredded zucchini in zip closure plastic sandwich bags. Press out as much air as possible while sealing bags. Place bags in freezer. Add a bag or two of frozen zucchini to soups, stews, pasta sauce, and meatloaf mix. Or use in bread and muffin recipes.

Thanks, Cloris! What an excellent idea with none of the mess or hassle of canning!


Readers, what tips do you have for all that extra zucchini, tomatoes, or other garden produce? Let's hear from you. 
Everyone who posts a comment this week is entered in the drawing for a free book from our Book Club Friday Guest Author. 
-- AP

Monday, October 18, 2010

CRAFTS WITH ANASTASIA--HALLOWEEN WITCH CANDY CUP


This week, the final Halloween candy cup, a witch to join your ghost and pumpkin from the last two weeks.

Materials:
scraps of 7-hole clear plastic canvas
#16 tapestry needle
4-ply worsted yarn in orange, purple, black, and green
6-strand embroidery floss in black
pencil

Directions:
Using the pencil draw the outline of the pumpkin on plastic canvas. Also, draw two side pieces 10 x 10 bars, and one back and one bottom each 10 x 18 bars. Each line on the chart represents a bar on the canvas.

Cut out shapes, cutting in the space between bars and not on the bar. After cutting, trim off all the remaining plastic nubs.

Following the chart, stitch the front piece in Continental Stitch. Fill in the uncharted areas in black. Stitch the sides, back, and bottom pieces in black Continental Stitch.

Using 6 strands of black floss, French knot the witch’s eyes and mouth in black.

Whip Stitch the pieces together with black yarn.

Overcast the witch’s hair in orange, the hat band in purple, and the remainder of the candy cup in black.




Do you do any special for Halloween? Let's hear from you. 
Everyone who posts a comment this week is entered in the drawing for a free book from our Book Club Friday Guest Author. -- AP

Saturday, October 16, 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 Suzanne Adair for being our Book Club Friday guest and offering a copy of Camp Follower to one of our readers who posted a comment this week. The winner this week is jrlindermuth. Please email your mailing address to me at anastasiapollack@gmail.com. I’ll forward the information to Suzanne, and she’ll mail your book to you. Happy reading! -- Anastasia

Friday, October 15, 2010

BOOK CLUB FRIDAY -- GUEST AUTHOR SUZANNE ADAIR

Our guest author today is Suzanne Adair who writes a mystery/suspense series set during the Southern theater of the Revolutionary War. Suzanne’s first book, Paper Woman, won the Patrick D. Smith Literature Award. Camp Follower was a finalist for both the Daphne du Maurier Award and the Sir Walter Raleigh Award. Suzanne will be giving away a copy of Camp Follower to one lucky person who posts a comment this week. The winner has the option of receiving the book as a trade paperback (U.S. deliveries only) or eBook format. For more information about Suzanne visit her website and blog. -- AP

They Said What? Crafting Dialogue in Historical Mystery and Suspense
Like guest author Mike Manno (6 August 2010), I don't think of myself as a "crafter." The gene for knitting, crocheting, sewing, weaving, glass staining, and leatherworking must have missed its ride on my DNA. However, I am a character-smith, as Mike is. Especially where the dialogue of those characters is concerned.

As an author of historical fiction, I must deal with a special challenge that writers of contemporary fiction don't face. Only within the most recent century of human history have we preserved recordings of speech. An author who writes fiction set in that time period can capture dialogue accurately. However the rest of us must take liberties and make assumptions when crafting our characters' conversations. Here's a peek at how we do it.

Some writers simulate dialogue by duplicating the way people wrote their personal correspondence, such as letters and journals. But linguistics experts agree that humans don't speak the way they write. For example, a writer who elects to have characters from the time of King James I speak the way they wrote might have them talk in big, windy phrases filled with "thees" and "thous." Their speech would be lush with alien terms. Familiar words would be spelled in bizarre, inconsistent ways. The result could kill most readers' interest in the story by slowing the pace. And since many people of King James's time were illiterate, the writer would only represent the expression of educated people.

Obstacles like these convince other writers to embrace the opposite philosophy about constructing verbal communication for historical fiction. They avoid the snarl of "thees" and "thous" by inserting modern speech, complete with slang, in their characters' mouths. They operate under the assumption that the dialogue will be so familiar to readers that they'll glide over it. In practice, however, this approach can jolt readers out of the story. Let's face it, when you're reading historical fiction, you want to be immersed in the exotic world of a story set in the past. Even if you don't have a degree in history, you know that a couple of Regency rakes prowling the London brothels wouldn't call each other "bro."

Many historical fiction writers, including myself, adopt a sort of middle ground. They use dialogue patterns that are mostly modern, but they avoid modern slang and anachronisms. They also incorporate period slang and terms in a manner that readers can understand meanings from context. The idea here is to avoid having the pace stall while conveying the flavor of what conversation from a past era might have been like. Achieving this balance is tricky. We're equipped with a vocabulary suited for the 21st century. To successfully craft dialogue from this middle ground, writers must develop an internal detector that flags anachronisms and 21st-century slang. They must also enlist a team of early readers to help them do the flagging. Access to a dictionary that shows when words entered the English language is essential.

I was curious what style of dialogue readers actually preferred, so I started a discussion about it over the summer among readers on LibraryThing. (Many thanks to all of you who participated!) Most who responded preferred the middle ground. "Too much reliance on antiquated ways of speaking makes it hard or annoying to read, but slang and words that are clearly modern take me out of the book," said one reader. Another observed: "If the author is trying too hard to sound period, it just sounds contrived to me."

These folks also volunteered insights into what makes conversations among historical characters resonate as authentic. While writers might believe that regional dialect contributes to the period ambiance, readers say no, that heavy use of dialect distracts them from the novel's flow. Also, writers who devote research time to understanding a culture well enough to craft believable insults and jokes usually produce believable period dialogue.

And readers enjoy conversations that sound "timeless." Here we aren't just talking about dialogue that's suitable for a specific historical period, but dialogue that's crafted well enough to be understood a hundred years from now, without a slang dictionary. That's a tall order for a dialogue craftsmith who's writing fiction set in any era.

What historical fiction author have you read who crafts timeless dialogue? What's your reaction to the use of regional dialect, modern slang, or antiquated speech patterns in historical fiction?

Thanks for such an informative post, Suzanne! Remember readers, Suzanne will be offering either a trade paperback or e-book version of Camp Follower to one of you who posts a comment this week. So let’s hear from you! -- AP

Thursday, October 14, 2010

BEAUTY WITH NICOLE--HAIR SPRAY TIP

Beauty editor Nicole Emmerling has a great tip for us today. -- AP


Thanks, Anastasia! Raise your hands. How many of you have tossed out cans of hairspray before they’re empty due to clogged nozzles? I’ll bet every one of you has suffered that wasteful frustration at one time or another. Well, guess what! You don’t have to ever again. Here’s a simple solution for unclogging that nozzle.

Pour a little rubbing alcohol in the hairspray can’s cap, enough to cover the nozzle. Pull the nozzle off the can, and let it soak in the alcohol for a bit. Rinse the nozzle, and insert it back into the can. Voila! Your can of hairspray is as good as new!


Thanks, Nicole! I would imagine this tip might work for other spray can products as well. I’ll have to give it a try the next time one of mine clogs up. What about the rest of you? Do you have any special tips to share? Post a comment to the blog this week, and you're entered in the drawing for a free book from our Book Club Friday guest author. -- AP

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

HEALTHY LIVING WITH JANICE-- COLD? FLU? ALLERGY? KNOW THE DIFFERENCE

Do you have the sniffles? Aches? A cough? It’s that time of year again, but what do you really have? A cold? The flu? Or is it allergies? Health editor Janice Kerr is here today to help you figure out just what ails you. -- AP

Thanks, Anastasia! Sometimes it’s not easy to tell exactly what it is you have, and taking the wrong treatment can either do nothing to alleviate your symptoms or may actually make them worse. So before you reach for the decongestant, here are a few tips to help you determine what you have.

Colds are viruses. They usually last 3-5 days, but symptoms can linger for several days after the virus is gone from your body. Signs of a cold can include a hacking, mucous-producing cough along with a stuffy nose, sneezing, sore throat, slight body ache, and mild chest discomfort. Fever and headaches are fairly uncommon with colds, and tiredness is fairly mild. Cold symptoms general develop over the course of several days. The best defense against catching a cold is to wash your hands frequently.

Flu is also a virus, but it generally comes on quite quickly, usually within 3-6 hours. Symptoms can include fever, a dry cough, severe aches and pains, chills, tiredness, and chest discomfort. Sneezing, a stuffy nose, and a sore throat are not commonly present with the flu, but headache is. The best defense against the flu is to get an annual flu shot. However, since there are many different strains of flu and the shots only protect against the three that scientists believe will be present any given year, you can still get one of the strains not included in the inoculation.

Allergies occur when your immune system overreacts to something that is generally not a common threat. Some of the more common allergies are pollen, ragweed, dust, mold, and pet dander. These types of allergies come on slowly (as opposed to certain food allergies) and will linger for as long as the allergen is present. For allergies to pollen and ragweed, this is usually 3-4 weeks. These allergies generally produce sneezing, sniffles watery eyes, itching, and sometimes rashes. The best defense against allergies is to avoid the allergen. When that’s not possible, allergy shots work for many people, or you can take over-the-counter allergy medications as needed, but always consult with your doctor first.

Thanks, Janice! I’m sure you’ve helped many of our readers today. Readers, what are some of your tips for dealing with or preventing colds, allergies, and the flu? Post a comment to be entered into our drawing for a free book from our Book Club Friday guest author. -- AP

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

COOKING WITH CLORIS--STUFFED TURKEY BURGERS

Today Cloris features a quick turkey burger dinner with a surprising twist -- peaches. -- AP

STUFFED TURKEY BURGERS

two fresh peaches or the equivalent of frozen peaches
1 T. sugar
1 T. apple cider vinegar
dash of cinnamon
dash of paprika
1 lb. ground turkey
1/2 cup shredded mozzerella
1 T. olive oil
4 lg. slices whole grain Italian bread

Combine peaches, sugar, vinegar, cinnamon, and paprika in a blender. Cover and blend until smooth.

Divide turkey into eight balls. Roll out four balls between layers of wax paper to 1/4” thickness. Divide the cheese between the four patties. Roll out remaining balls to 1/4” thickness. Place one over each cheese covered patty. Pinch edges closed.

Heat oil in skillet over medium heat. Cook patties until browned and no pink remains. While patties are cooking, toast bread.

Line broiler pan with non-stick foil. Place slices of bread on foil. Place a patty on each slice of bread. Pour peaches over patties. Broil until peaches are bubbly.

Serves 4

Thanks, Cloris! I know our readers will love this one. My family certainly does, although I generally have to double the recipe for two growing teenage boys. Comments? 
Post a comment to the blog this week, and you're entered into the drawing for a free book from our Book Club Friday guest author. -- AP

Monday, October 11, 2010

CRAFTS WITH ANASTASIA--HALLOWEEN GHOST CANDY CUP


This week, another Halloween candy cup, a ghost to add to your pumpkin from last week.


Materials:
scraps of 7-hole clear plastic canvas
#16 tapestry needle
4-ply worsted yarn in white, purple, and gray
6-strand embroidery floss in black and orange
pencil


Directions:
Using the pencil draw the outline of the pumpkin on plastic canvas. Also, draw two side pieces 8 x 10 bars, one back 8 x 15 bars, and one bottom piece 10 x 15 bars. Each line on the chart represents a bar on the canvas.


Cut out shapes, cutting in the space between bars and not on the bar. After cutting, trim off all the remaining plastic nubs.

Following the chart, stitch the front piece in Continental Stitch. Fill in the uncharted areas in gray. Stitch the sides, back, and bottom pieces in gray Continental Stitch.

Using 6 strands of black floss, French knot the ghost’s eyes and the spider’s body. Backstitch the spider’s legs in black and the ghost’s mouth in orange.

Whip Stitch the pieces together with gray yarn.

Overcast the ghost’s body and hand in white and the remainder of the candy cup in gray.



What are some of the ways you celebrate Halloween? Post a comment to the blog this week, and you're entered into the drawing for a free book from our Book Club Friday guest author. -- AP

Saturday, October 9, 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 Kathleen Ernst for being our Book Club Friday guest and offering a copy of one of her books -- your choice -- to one of our readers who posted a comment this week. The winner this week is Kari Lee Townsend. Kari, please check out all of Kathleen's titles at her website (the link is in yesterday's blog post) and email your choice, along with your mailing address to me at anastasiapollack@gmail.com. I’ll forward the information to Kathleen, and she’ll mail your book to you. Happy reading! -- Anastasia

Friday, October 8, 2010

BOOK CLUB FRIDAY -- GUEST AUTHOR KATHLEEN ERNST

Today’s Book Club Friday guest author is Kathleen Ernst. Kathleen is celebrating the publication of her first adult mystery, Old World Murder, published by Midnight Ink.  She’s also written eight mysteries for young readers.  Several have been finalists for Edgar or Agatha awards. Kathleen is offering the winner of this week’s drawing the choice of any one of her sixteen titles -- either Old World Murder, one of her American Girl mysteries, or one of her Civil War novels. Everyone who posts a comment to the blog this week is entered in the drawing. You can read more about Kathleen and her books at her website. -- AP

I’m grateful to Anastasia for allowing me to be a guest on her blog.  And I’m grateful to readers!  I love my work, and I’d be nowhere without you.

I loved art until the 8th grade.  That year my art teacher quickly divided students into two unofficial but obvious groups:  Those Who Have Talent, and therefore belonged there, and Those Who Have No Talent, and therefore had no right taking his time.  During our first project, which involved painting, he made it clear that I was in the second group.

Fortunately, my language arts teachers were much more affirming.  I wrote my first novel when I was fifteen.  It took many years and many manuscripts before I sold a novel, but I believed I’d break through one day.

I didn’t take any more art classes in high school or college.  But when I went to work as an interpreter at Old World Wisconsin, a large living history museum, I was excited about the opportunity to learn a variety of 19th-century domestic crafts.  In my first season I learned how to spin wool and flax, how to weave, how to quilt, and how to make coiled rye-straw baskets.  (I never quite got the hang of the basketry, although I did pretty well on the others.)

After a couple of years I became curator at the historic site.  Among other things, I supervised the domestic craft program.  Old World Wisconsin includes ten completely restored farmsteads and a crossroads village.  The buildings represent a variety of ethnic groups and their folk traditions.  I actually got paid to research the handwork relevant for the women of each group depicted!  I helped train the interpreters, who in turn shared the activities with visitors.  And I loved every minute of it.

That hands-on practice also served me well as I developed my skills as an historical novelist.  I could write about warping looms, scutching flax, and tatting lace because I’d done all of those things.

I left Old World Wisconsin in 1995, after twelve years on staff.  I never forgot how much I loved the site, though.  So when I decided to write an adult mystery series, I chose to make my protagonist, Chloe Ellefson, a curator.  Old World Murder is set at the site I know so well.  And one of the great pleasures of developing the series is thinking about different ways handwork can play a role in the plots.

Future books will find Chloe traveling to different historic sites, much as Nevada Barr gets her wonderful protagonist, ranger Anna Pigeon, to different national parks.  The plot of Old World Murder revolves around a rosemaled Norwegian ale bowl.  In book 3 or 4, I plan to have Chloe learn more about the traditional Norwegian folk art of rosemaling, or “rose painting.”

I knew about rosemaling from a curator’s perspective, but in order to understand Chloe’s experience, I decided to take a rosemaling class.  Last summer I signed up for five days at Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum in Decorah, Iowa.  Perhaps I subconsciously still believed I belonged in the “No Talent” group, but I went to Decorah believing I was there for research purposes, nothing more.

The five days of class were intense and challenging.  But much to my surprise, I felt in love with the art.  I hadn’t held a paint brush since the eighth grade, and it felt wonderful.  I couldn’t be more proud of my first two projects.

So crafts have always played an important role in my writing.  Learning about historical handwork fed my early novels…and now, my newest book has circled me back to the pleasure of learning a new art form.

I hope you enjoy meeting Chloe in Old World Murder, and will want to follow her to new sites as the series unfolds.  I also hope you won’t wait as long as I did to learn, or return to, an art form that appeals to you!

Thanks so much, Kathleen! One of the best parts of Book Club Friday is discovering all the varied backgrounds of our guests. And I’m in awe of the fact that you were able to master tatting, something even I haven’t yet mastered!

Remember, readers, leave a comment and your name will go into the drawing for your choice of any one of Kathleen’s novels. Be sure to stop back tomorrow to find our if you’re the lucky winner. -- AP

Thursday, October 7, 2010

FASHION WITH ERICA/BEAUTY WITH NICOLE -- THINK PINK

As Janice mentioned yesterday, October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Erica and Nicole teamed up today to bring you fashion and beauty products that benefit breast cancer charities. -- AP

That’s right, Anastasia. Thousands of companies produce pink products this time each year, and either a percentage or all of the proceeds from their sales go to helping find a cure for breast cancer. Here are a few of our favorites for this year.

Ford Motor Co. offers Warriors in Pink apparel and accessories at
fordcares.com. We especially liked their Warrior Getaway Tote, a steal at $20. There are three dozen chic and stylish items to choose from, and the best part is that 100% of the proceeds from the sales go to Susan G. Komen for the Cure.

Another fashion fave of ours is the Fergie Footwear Hope pump. The shoes are $45 and can be purchased at QVC beginning Oct. 15
th. 100% of the net proceeds will go to cancer research.

Skechers will donate $10 to breast cancer research for each pair of their limited-edition Shape-up Awareness shoes ($110)  purchased.

Opi Nail Lacquer has a Pink of Hearts shade ($8.50) for Breast Cancer Awareness Month and is donating $25,000 to Susan G. Komen for the Cure.

Half a million dollars from sales of the Estee Lauder Pink Ribbon Collection will be donated to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.

100% of the net proceeds from the sale of Ralph Lauren’s Pink Pony Collection Organic Tote ($10) will go to the Pink Pony Fund of the Polo Ralph Lauren Foundation.

Some of the other companies offering limited edition fashion and beauty products with proceeds going to support breast cancer research this month are Lacoste, TOCS, Sephora, Dyanne Belle, Needham Lane, Tweezerman, Shiseido, Philosophy, and Avon. Look for them and many more as you shop this month to be part of the cure.


Thanks, Erica and Nicole! Isn’t it great when you can treat yourself and help fight breast cancer at the same time? Remember to post a comment to the blog this week, and you're automatically entered in a drawing for a free book from our Book Club Friday guest author.  -- AP

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

HEALTHY LIVING WITH JANICE--BREAST CANCER AWARENESS MONTH

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Health editor Janice Kerr talks about warning signs today. -- AP

Thanks, Anastasia. Most people think of breast cancer as something that strikes middle-aged women, but breast cancer can strike anyone, including women in their early twenties. For that reason, all women should have a yearly breast exam by their gynecologist or internist and do routine monthly self-examinations. According to the Mayo Clinic, signs and symptoms of breast cancer may include the following:

  • A breast lump or thickening that feels different from the surrounding tissue
  • Bloody discharge from the nipple
  • Change in the size or shape of a breast
  • Changes to the skin over the breast, such as dimpling
  • Inverted nipple
  • Peeling or flaking of the nipple skin
  • Redness or pitting of the skin over your breast, like the skin of an orange


If you notice any of these signs and symptoms, make an appointment to see your doctor immediately. And if you’re 40 years old or older, start getting mammograms. Speak with your doctor to determine how often you should have a mammogram. Age and family history are factors.

Mammograms save lives. They’re not the most comfortable thing in the world, but that few seconds of discomfort might just save your life. Too many women put off getting mammograms because they fear the procedure. This is not a case of what you don’t know can’t hurt you. When it comes to breast cancer, what you don’t know can kill you. By the time you feel a lump, it may have been growing for several years and might already have metastasized. Early detection is key. So do yourself and your family a favor -- make an appointment for a mammogram today.


Thanks so much, Janice! You may have saved a life today.
 



Readers, remember to post a comment to the blog this week, and you're automatically entered in a drawing for a free book from our Book Club Friday guest author.-- AP

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

COOKING WITH CLORIS--MARGARITA MARINATED VEGGIES

I love marinated veggies. Today Cloris offers us a yummy recipe with a margarita touch.  -- AP

MARGARITA MARINATED VEGGIES

1 medium zucchini
2 medium tomatoes
1 medium cucumber
3/4 cup small mozzarella balls
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
juice of one lime
2 T. dried, minced onions

Wisk together vinegar, oil, and lime juice. Cut the veggies into bite-sized chunks and place in bowl. Add mozzarella balls and minced onions. Pour oil/vinegar mixture over veggies. Stir to coat veggies. Cover and chill for at least 2 hours before serving.

Serves 4

Thanks, Cloris! I know our readers will love this one as much as I do.


Readers, remember to post a comment to the blog this week, and you're automatically entered in a drawing for a free book from our Book Club Friday guest author. -- AP