Over the years, I've learned just enough HTML code to be dangerous. I can update certain things on my website, and I recently learned how to embed a PDF. (If you go to my Lorraine site, on the From Katie's Kitchen page, you can download a couple of Katie's recipe cards.)
About six weeks ago, I was informed that the company that has hosted my website(s) since day one (and we're talking more than a decade), was going out of business. I've leaved in dread ever since then because I knew it was going to be a GIGANTIC pain in the patootie. And guess what. It is.
First, I contacted my website designer. We've been going back and forth about new hosting faculties while we talked about refreshing the look of at least two of my sites. Today was the day she said she was ready for the sites to be moved. (She's backed up everything and is ready to move forward.)
Gulp. That means it's my turn to figure things out. So on Thursday, I spent over three hours talking with a prospective new host, the old host, and the people that take care of my domain names. And. I'm. Not. Done. Yet.
By the time I got through all that, it was Happy Hour and brother did I need a couple of strong belts. Friday, I called the new hosting guy (a fellow name of Gene) and once I give him my authorization codes, he said he will "take care of the rest." Whew, thoguth I was rescued because thinking about all that rigmarole made my brain hurt!
So, bright and early Friday morning I emailed Gene all my information to get the website shift in motion, including my phone number because that was going to be a LOT faster than doing on their website on my own.
Then I waited.
I only had one errand planned for the day, but it was to be a fun one.
Three hours later, I figured I wait until after lunch. Sure -- I had HOURS left when I could run my errand.
And I waited.
By 4 pm, I'd gotten a little tire of waiting. I emailed Gene. "Hey, are we going to do this today?"
My goal is to call the company at the crack of dawn and see if somebody else will help me with this shift. I was told this company had good customer service. So far, I'm not seeing it. But I'll give them another chance. ONE more chance.
But the good news is, my site will be moved. I'm getting a great 3-year rate (less than I paid for one year with the old host), and my website(s) will be refreshed. I'm starting with my Lorraine site. Here's a sneak peak.
There ought to be an Olympic event for pet owners leaping out of bed in the middle of the night, scooping up their pet, and saving the rug from barf.
TWICE last night I was awakened by the sound of retching and recused first my duvet, and then the rug. Of course, the duvet was saved, but the rug by the bed wasn't so lucky. (And I stepped in it when I came back to clean up the mess at FOUR AM. I was awakened for the 2nd time at 6:46 am when the other one decided it was hairball time. Whew! Saved the rug that time.
So, how many of you could compete in this Olympic sport?
If you've read With Baited Breath, the first Lotus Bay Mystery novel, you know that Noreen is part-owner of The Bay Bay, which is right next door to the wreck of a house Kathy Grant wants to turn into a B&B.
Noreen was an office worker who rode a motorcycle. (Although, she's not into tatts, so don't ask if she has any.) She met Paul Darby, owner of the bar, on a Poker Run, and it was love at first sight. She traded in her job and now she'd the short-order cook at the bar.
Wow, what a change. She went from filing papers to flipping burgers. From eight hours a day to whatever it took to keep the customers happy, and since the bar also takes in fishermen (they've got two rooms to let), she's also in charge of keeping those rooms clean and ready for the next guest.
She liked her life, but it got better when she met Tori Cannon, her BFF Kathy, and Tori's childhood friend, Anissa. What do they all have in common? Being business owners .... or at least they have that goal in mind.
It was Noreen who held out the hand of friendship. “It’s a tough life. Not only do I cook, but I keep the rooms clean, too. And let me tell you, some of our guests are real pigs—and they’re not all men.” “I hear you,” Kathy said, taking a sip of her neglected drink. The ice had melted, leaving it watery. “We’re starting with the bait shop. We’ll scrub the outside walls and start painting it tomorrow.” “We’ve got a power washer. We’d be glad to loan it to you guys.” “That’s very generous of you. I’ll take you up on it. Thanks.” “Anything to help out Herb,” Noreen said. “I’ll be back in the kitchen about eight in the morning. Knock on the door and you can pick it up then.”
That was the beginning.
So you can see that Noreen is a real sweetheart.
I'm currently figuring out the next adventure for these entrepreneurial ladies, including fleshing out Noreen's character. What do you think? Should she have a funny hobby? Collect something strange? Knit sweaters for birds with no feathers? Come on--share your ideas.
In WITH BAITED BREATH, Tori Cannon asks her BFF, Kathy Grant (both of whom are in their late 20s), "Why aren't we married?"
Kathy answers: "Because nobody asked?" But then she added, “What if instead of me getting married, my destiny is to give other women the wedding of their dreams at my B and B?”
Ever since I wrote that line, I've been thinking about Kathy's dream weddings ... or more correctly, wedding (and other) showers. I may have to wait until the third novel for her to get a chance to throw one of those showers and/or a wedding, but that hasn't stopped me from doing research. From party games to party food and decorations, I've been downloading suggestions and inspirational pictures.
Why am I fascinated with wedding showers? Because my own was nearly a debacle. It was very small, and the person who threw it for me (and who is no longer in my life) did nothing to prepare for it. I asked my sister-in-law, who was supposed to be helping what the plans were.
"She bought a small cake."
SIL shook her head.
"Cookies? Punch? Coffee?"
Again, SIL (who has never hosted any kind of gathering before or in the years since) shook her head.
I knew I was going to be embarrassed, but what could I do? It was the day of the party. I picked up my mother at her house and on the drive to the shower, tearfully told her the so-called plans.
Well, she wasn't going to stand for that and directed me to divert to the nearest Wegmans. She marched in, bought dozens of rolls, pounds of cold cuts, cartons of potato and macaroni salad, and I can't remember all what else, but the car was nearly full. When we arrived at the party, she quietly walked into the kitchen, handed over the makings for a nice lunch, and without a word, came and sat down in the living room. The shower went on, the guests had a lovely lunch, Person-X took full credit for the spread, and my mother never said a word. I was too embarrassed to say anything, either, but I thanked my mother profusely then and in the years that followed.
That won't happen to any of Kathy's guests. She'll have fabulous food, delicious drinks, and plenty of party games. If you'd like to see some of the pictures of the food she'll serve, and the decorations she'll hang, you can visit my Pinterest board for Bridal Showers at Swans Nest. Just click this link.
Do you have a story (funny, sad, or in between) to share about a shower?
I admit it, I came to cooking and baking LATE. Baking, not too late, but cooking LATE. I always liked to bake because I like sweets. Cookies and pies were about the extent of it, but now I like to bake cakes, too. (I made that poppy seed cake with the lime glaze in the picture at right.) I don't do it that often because ... well, once you bake something, it must be eaten, and my eating audience has dwindled to about my husband and brother, and my brother is usually on a diet (one of those crazy ones where you only have 500 calories a day, so you eat a lot of canned veggies and apples. Hmmm...he always loses weight. Maybe I should try that).
I used to brag about how much I DIDN'T like to cook. But then I started writing cozy mysteries, and it's almost a given that you need to include a few recipes. So I started making stuff to test recipes and I found out that I like to tinker with recipes, too.
I had a little time on my hands of late (call it a rest between writing assignments) and I started watching Kitchen Nightmares (with Gordon Ramsey) on Youtube. In just over a week, I'd watched every one available. (Talk about binge watching.) Then I moved on to Hotel Hell. I really liked that one because I got to learn how NOT to run a B&B. And Gordon's cussing? Doesn't bother me a bit. (Hey, I worked in a machine shop for 18 months drilling holes in metal parts for the space shuttle. I've heard it all.)
Yesterday, I watched nearly a whole season of Masterchef Junior (going to watch the finale to see if Addison or Avery wins--go girl power!). What amazed me about that show was the level of skill these kids have. We're talking 8-year-olds who can whip up a serving of duck a l'Orange, bake perfect cream puffs, and cook a perfect medium rare steak, none of which I feel capable of doing. (For one think, I like my steak well done, which would cause the Chef to puke ... and I've heard him do it many times after being served nasty food. Oy, some of those walk-in fridges make you never want to visit a restaurant again).
But, I felt inspired by those kids and decided to make the recipe I've been collecting ingredients for all week.
Pasta With White Beans And Kalamata Olives Ingredients 2 tablespoons olive oil 1 to 3 cloves garlic, minced ½ teaspoon salt 1/8 to ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes 5 ounces uncooked rotini pasta 1 can (about 15 ounces) navy beans 1 can (about 14 ounces) diced tomatoes ½ cup pitted Kalamata olives ½ cup spinach leaves, packed ¼ cup (1 ounce) pine nuts, toasted 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil ½ cup grated feta cheese pepper, to taste
In a small bowl, combine the oil, garlic, salt and pepper flakes; set aside. Cook the pasta according to the package directions. Meanwhile, drain the beans and tomatoes in a colander. Pour the pasta and cooking water over the beans and tomatoes. Drain well. Transfer to a large bowl. Add the garlic mixture, olives, spinach, nuts, and basil. Gently toss; blend well. Top with the cheese.
Yield: 4 to 6 servings
Now, I don't like feta cheese, so I substituted Parmesan; I couldn't find pine nuts, but it tasted great without them. And fresh basil? This is winter in Western NY. Dried worked out just fine. (See what I mean about tinkering with recipes.)
I may not be a Masterchef, but I'm happy when I make a recipe that works and then goes into the dinner rotation. This one's a keeper. And, it's going into my next cookbook (with my changes, of course), "written" by my character, Brenda Stanley.
Care to share a recipe for something you've made recently?
Last week, I went to a store where, just inside the door, I was greeted by a six-foot long mirrored lion--roaring his head off. (I'm calling him "Disco Lion.")
Yesterday, I went to Home Goods for the first time.
WOW -- talk about a store that contains everything you WANT and just about nothing you NEED.
I walked around in awe looking at the china, the pictures, the bedding (even dog bedding), the beautiful coffee (or tea) mugs, throw pillows, soap dishes, lamps -- just EVERYTHING, and I wanted it all (even though I have no where to put it.)
I'd first heard about Home Goods on HGTV. Hosts of the decorating stores would walk in, grab a grocery cart, and start filling them up with neat stuff to decorate the homes they were working on. Just like on TV, women were walking (and blocking) the aisles with shopping carts full of STUFF. There were even a few guys in there doing the same.
Mr. L and I walked around (and I must say he was EXTREMELY PATIENT, as I pulled a "MUM" and looked at everything) in disbelief. While most of the customers were breaking the bank with their purchases, we walked out of there with a new soap dish.
I'm at the point in life where I'm starting to shed stuff, so it's not likely Home Goods is a place I'll return to. But it does make me want some of those gorgeous bone china mugs to drink my morning tea out of.
What's your impression of Home Goods? Would it be a destination place for you?
A couple of years ago, I found a Bossons head at an estate sale. What's a Bosson's head? A picture tells a thousand words, they say. Basically, it's a head made of plaster of Paris (or chalkware). You can read all about them here.
My mother and aunt collect(ed) them, neither of them had/have a huge collection, but they're very interesting and kind of delicate--they chip very easily. Mr. L gave me two for Christmas and wasn't as careful as he might have been. One of them broke after he wrapped it. Luckily, he has a friend who can mend things so that you can't tell they've been broken. (One of our cats chewed the ears off a cat statue Mr. L had given me and his friend was able to repair it so that there was no trace it had been gnawed.)
I've now got five. Women Bossons heads are very rare indeed, and Mr. L bought me a female for Christmas. I wish I could say she was pretty, but she's a fisherman's wife, and she looks it. In fact, not many could be considered "pretty," but they are true-to-life.
Most of my Bossons heads are fishermen (and woman), but I do have a policeman (who was my second head). I've looked at a lot of images online and I think I'd like a Beefeater next. But that can wait. I've still got a birthday and Christmas to go in 2017.
The other day, I was at a thrift shop. Sad to say, I did NOT find a Bossons head, but I did find a small plaster of Paris plaque of a fisherman at the helm. Mr. L said it reminded him of the Glouesster Fisherman statue in Massachusetts.
As you can see, it's rather humble, but sweet. I thought it would make a nice addition to my wee Bossons collection.
Do I really need to find anything else to collect?
Just in time for the holidays, I've written a new Blythe Cove manor story you may want to read.
AN UNEXPECTED VISITOR
All is quiet at Blythe Cove Manor as its proprietress, Blythe Calvert, anticipates a peaceful holiday along with her cat, Martha. But then a taxi pulls up and drops off a troubled, runaway teen looking for a safe haven. Can the magic of Blythe Cove Manor heal this young girl’s aching heart?
After almost four years, the Victoria Square Mysteries has finally continued. Today is publication day for Dead, Bath and Beyond.
Nothing can spoil Katie Bonner’s perfect day of sailing with her friend, lawyer Seth Landers. That is, until she runs into her ex-boss Josh at the marina. As an employer, Josh liked to rock the boat and can still push all Katie’s buttons. After a loud discussion, she’s happy to say good-bye for what she hopes is the last time. And it was. For the next day, Josh is found drowned in a bathtub at Sassy Sally’s B&B on Victoria Square. Who pulled the plug on Josh? When an autopsy proves it was lake and not bath water that killed him, Katie finds herself in over her head, and races to find the killer before her life and business go down the drain.
I love holiday music. I start sneaking it into the daily repertoire a week or two before Thanksgiving, usually playing it on my computer in my office. Of course, my office is connected to Mr. L's office. He doesn't love holiday music as much as I do, although I will admit that our favorite local soft rock station starts playing it the Friday before Thanksgiving 24/7. That gets REALLY tiresome because you're liable to hear the same song 3 times during the day. (We have it on in the kitchen just for background noise.)
Last year, one of my readers (and I really wish I could remember who it was), introduced me to Straight No Chaser, an a capella group. They're known for singing some pretty whacky tunes. I first heard their rendition of The Twelve Days of Christmas thanks to this Facebook friend. I liked it so much, I went straight to Amazon and bought one of their Christmas albums. (Christmas Cheer.) My favorites? That's a toughie. I think Rudolf The Red-Nosed Reindeer. Why? Because not only have they a changed a few of the words, but it's a unique arrangement. I like different arrangements of familiar tunes. My Dad used to take me to The Arrangers Workshop at the Eastman Theatre From the time I was about 10 until I was in my mid-20s. Great music from great guest artists.
Another of my favorites is Popular Christmas for a New Age. I got it at Wegmans (grocery store) for about $5 about 10 years ago. It was re-released last year with a new (icky) cover, but it's the same wonderful instrumental CD that I've been enjoying for the past 10 or more years. It's jazz/new age kind of music and, again, it's the arrangement of familiar tunes in a different way that makes it unique and enjoyable for me.
I also have a few piano only DCs that I play over and over again (ad nauseam, Mr. L would say). My favorite is one I picked up at Target a few years back called Relaxing Christmas Piano. For some reason, it's the first one I play every year. My favorite cut is God Rest Ye Merry Gentleman, which is done in a rather somber key--but it's so different from any other version of that tune, that I find myself looking forward to it every time I put on the CD. (Yes, I still use CDs, but I also have everything on my computer or in the cloud, too, just so it's always available.)
In all I must have at least 50 holiday CDs and not all of them get played every year.
Why not share the title of YOUR favorite CD so that many of us can give it a try. It might just become one of my/our favorites, too!