Need a spare? Here’s one to share!

Most of my days are spent hunkered over my computer, pounding away at my current work-in-progress. But once a month, I get together with the crafts group at my apartment community for laughs and crafts and general camaraderie.

Since some of us (ahem…) don’t sew, we look for projects that are fun, economical, and not terribly hard to make. If possible, we like to make them in one sitting, which is why this particular project was absolutely perfect for our October meeting! One of my crafty gals, as I like to call us, found some instructions online (thank you smartschoolhouse.com!) for making toilet paper pumpkins:

Materials:

  • Roll of toilet paper (any size, but I like plumper ones)
  • 1 fat quarter (for the pumpkin I used tie-dyed orange)
  • Cinnamon sticks (or branches cut from a tree)
  • Fake or silk leaves

I confess that until a few months ago, I had no idea what a fat quarter was. It wasn’t until I went to a friend’s quilting show that I stumbled on them: a fat quarter is a piece of fabric that measures 18” by 22” and is used widely in quilting. If you were to purchase a yard of material from a bolt of fabric and divide it into equal quarters, one would be a fat quarter. But anyway, here’s how to put together your TP pumpkin:

  • Place the toilet paper roll in the center of the fat quarter
  • Starting with one corner, tuck the fabric into the center of the roll (if you fold it slightly as you go along, it makes the lines in the pumpkin)
  • After the fabric is firmly tucked into the center, simply add some fake leaves and a cinnamon stick (or tree branches) — there’s no need to use glue unless you feel you want to secure it a bit. On my first try, I’d cut a slender branch from a tree, but then thought it was too skinny. Luckily, I had a scrap of brown felt, so I wrapped it around the branch and glued it together to form the stem.

A tip: If you’re not crazy about the way it came out the first time around–no biggie! Just unwrap the whole thing and start over until it looks right to you.

I think these darling TP creations make whimsical hostess gifts, don’t you? Plus…when you need an emergency spare, it’s right there! (I placed ours on the back of our bathroom tank) J

With some extra doodads I had, I made a TP kitty and a snowman. I think they’ll make ideal holiday gifts for Lara and Aunt Fran at the High Cliff Shelter for Cats. I wonder which of the cats will tear them apart first!

Much like cozy mysteries, craft projects like this one offer up so many possibilities. In a cozy series, every installment introduces new characters and a different scenario, but the basics are always there: a smart protagonist, the homey feel of a close-knit neighborhood, and a cast of characters you’d like to share a cup of tea and a bit of gossip with…so long as the gossip is about murder.

In my third Cat Lady Mystery, CLAWS FOR CELEBRATION, watercolor artist Lara Caphart finds herself busier than Santa prepping for the upcoming season! Amidst all the holiday hoopla, murder has once again landed on her plate…her plate of kitty treats, that is. When a local cookie contest goes from cutthroat to deadly, Lara will have to start from scratch and whip up a recipe for tracking down a killer. With a whole new cast of cats to care for at the High Cliff Shelter, will she even have time to solve a murder? You can find out more at: http://www.kensingtonbooks.com/book.aspx/37106

 

Feline deadly this Christmas . . .

Whisker Jog, New Hampshire, celebrates all things Christmas, and few things are more beloved than the town’s annual holiday cookie competition. Lara Caphart, who runs the High Cliff Shelter for Cats with her Aunt Fran, is waiting for the green light for a brand-new category: pet-friendly cookies. But when the woman filling in as a last-minute judge dies after sampling someone’s Santa-themed treat, Lara’s recipe for healthy cat snacks will have to be put on the back burner.

The victim, Gladys Plouffe, was the town’s roundly despised former home economics teacher. The chief suspect is the mother of Lara’s best friend, who was hellbent on walking away with the bake-off’s cash prize. Cryptic clues from beyond the grave only deepen the mystery, pointing to a cat with striking blue eyes—a cat who bears an uncanny resemblance to Lara’s mysterious Ragdoll. As Lara begins a dangerous game of cat and mouse, not even her significant other may be able to stop a perfectly clawful killer from getting away with the purr-fect crime . . .

Praise for Linda Reilly’s Mysteries

“I was kept guessing until the final chapter. . . . A perfect cozy mystery.” —Susan Furlong, author of the Georgia Peach Mysteries, on Escape Claws

“I thoroughly enjoyed this puzzler of a mystery. Reilly cooks up a perfect recipe of murder and mayhem in this charming cozy.” —Jenn McKinlay, New York Times bestselling author of the Hat Shop Mysteries, on Fillet of Murder

“Smart, sassy, and a little bit scary. Everything a good cozy should be!” —Laura Childs, New York Times bestselling author of the Tea Shop Mysteries, on Fillet of Murder