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Crafts

Embroidery and Stress Relief by Tina Kashian

Everyone needs an outlet for stress. Many of us have family and work demands. Writers are no exception. Creating stories is wonderful, and I’m grateful for my work. But I still struggle with deadlines and getting the kids to soccer and swim practice, piano lessons…and everything else on time. It’s a balancing act!

I’ve always enjoyed swimming laps. The water and the repetitive exercise is calming. But my latest form of stress relief is embroidery. My mother loved to embroider, and she created some beautiful pieces. Sadly, my mom passed away, but I decided to try my hand—or my needle—at embroidery.

To my surprise, I enjoy it. It’s not easy, and I’ve accidently poked myself with a needle once or twice. But I do feel a special connection with my mom as I work, and that makes me happy.

Embroidery is also relaxing and eases stress. After the kids are in bed, my husband and I sit on the couch and watch the television shows we want to watch. No Disney channels! I stitch during commercials. I’ve even solved plot problems for my cozy mysteries as I work. Continue reading “Embroidery and Stress Relief by Tina Kashian”

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Cupcake Ornaments by Tara Sheets

The truth is, I’m a sucker for all things crafty and messy and fun.  As much as I love writing, crafts are an outlet for when I need a break, or when I need a fresh boost of creativity.  Today I’m going to share with you the latest craze in my house:  Faux Cupcake Ornaments!

Over the holidays, my family and I wanted to do something fun that would tie in with my debut novel, DON’T CALL ME CUPCAKE.  We searched various YouTube videos, Pinterest boards, and craft books until we came up with the fabulous idea of making faux cupcake ornaments.  Please note that even though we made this craft during the holidays, this is a fun activity that can be done any time of year.  Also, these faux cupcakes don’t have to be made into ornaments.  My teenage daughter has one without an ornament hook.  She keeps it on her desk as a sweet decoration!

Supply List

Cupcake baking tray
Cupcake liners
Wire for hooks (if you want to make ornaments)
Inexpensive acrylic craft paint for faux frosting colors
Disposable paper cups
Disposable spoons for mixing
Frosting tips and piping bags
Expandable foam sealant
Lightweight spackle

To start, you’re going to need to head to your local craft store and hardware store.  The two main “ingredients” in this faux cupcake recipe are expandable foam sealant, and lightweight spackle (see photo #1).  These brands are just suggestions, but feel free to use whichever brand you prefer, or whatever you might have in your garage.  Just keep in mind that the spackle needs to be lightweight, so your faux cupcake ornaments don’t end up being too heavy.

Continue reading “Cupcake Ornaments by Tara Sheets”

Quilting & Writing ‒ Cut From The Same Cloth by Diana Cosby

I enjoy doing many crafts, painting, gardening, and more, but one I’ve recently picked back up is quilting.  I admit I had a strong motive, the arrival of my first grandchild, Laura.  A momentous occasion, like a story, where a new character is brought to life, except in this special life moment, it’s the arrival of a precious little girl who has stolen my heart.

Until I started the process, I didn’t realize how much quilting and writing were in essence, cut from the same cloth.  Like the fun of deciding upon a plot, I had a blast choosing a pattern and selecting various types of cloth.  Then, as in researching the time-frame and preparing to write, I cut out numerous pieces of fabric, and set up my sewing machine.  Similar to creating a hero and heroine’s journey, then came the time to place all of the sections together into a cohesive pattern and sew them together.

Except, what I hadn’t anticipated was that like crafting a story, where the characters dig in and I’m forced to alter the course of their journey that I had planned, at times the pattern that I had envisioned changed.  Several times I ended up disassembling blocks, reorganizing them, then continue to piece the swaths together. Continue reading “Quilting & Writing ‒ Cut From The Same Cloth by Diana Cosby”

Author Post by Susan Lantz Simpson

Is there something that you truly love to do but can’t seem to find the time to do it? I have always enjoyed needlework and used to knit and crochet. When my daughters were small, I knitted sweaters, mittens, and even bunny slippers for them. Unfortunately, I haven’t had much time recently to indulge in this relaxing, enjoyable hobby. I must have at least five projects in various stages of production stuffed in bags in a closet. I’ve promised them I will complete them – one day.

When a friend introduced me to her alpacas and the beauty of alpaca fleece, my longing to retrieve my knitting needles soared to new heights. I love watching the alpacas in the field and talking to the ones that approach the fence. I knew they would somehow have to end up in one of my stories. And I could spend hours in my friend’s little alpaca store where she sells the warmest and softest socks, gloves, scarves, sweaters, and blankets made out of – you guessed it – alpaca fleece. I have purchased already-constructed items, but I have also selected skeins of fleece. I will knit that scarf, even if it takes me forever!

In The Promise, Phoebe Yoder is an accomplished knitter and enjoys creating useful but lovely gifts for her family and friends. She has fallen in love with her English neighbor, Dori Ryland’s, alpacas and hopes to one day own some of the adorable, prissy-looking animals of her own. Dori introduces Phoebe to the alpacas and teaches her all about raising and caring for them. She introduces Phoebe to knitting with alpaca fleece. Continue reading “Author Post by Susan Lantz Simpson”

Glass Jewelry by Cheryl Hollon

 

“Hollon clearly knows . . . how to craft a good mystery.” —Sheila Connolly, New York Times bestselling author

When a famous glass artist is murdered at his own exhibit, deadly secrets are put on display, and it’s up to glass shop owner Savannah Webb to see through a killer’s cover.

Celebrated glass artist Dennis Lansing is returning to St. Petersburg, Florida, for an exhibit at the world-renowned Salvador Dali Museum. His unique style of embedding document images in his art is at the vanguard of contemporary glasswork. But as Savannah’s first boyfriend and a former apprentice to her father, Dennis’s return home has her reflecting on the past—a trip down memory lane that takes a dark turn when Dennis is found murdered at the museum with an old reference letter from her father in his pocket. A search through her father’s records sheds new light on Dennis’s history, but it seems his present life wasn’t so transparent either. Now, with a gallery of suspects to consider, it’s up to Savannah to figure out who fits the mold of a murderer.

“Will keep you guessing to the end!” —Krista Davis, New York Times bestselling author

“A kaleidoscope of perfection, with a feisty heroine, exquisite plot and master storytelling.” —Liz Mugavero, author of the Pawsitively Organic Mysteries

Confessions of a Terrible Knitter By Amanda Flower

2018 is going to great year for my readers! I will have four books coming out! Two are part of the Amish Candy Shop Mysteries. The first one to release it Lethal Licorice in March. It’s a fun mystery that includes candy, Amish culture, a twisty mystery, and a very mischievous pot-bellied pig. The reason four books are dropping this year is because I wrote four last year, which is a lot. It’s not personal record, which was six novels–completely nuts and will never happen again– but it was enough that I’m tired and need to relax and recharge a bit. I am exhausted.

Here’s the problem with relaxing and recharging, I’m terrible at it. I’m not Amish–never have been. (I thought I should put that out there since I get asked that question a lot since I write about Amish people.) However, I understand the Amish need to be busy ALL THE TIME. I need a project. I hate days where I feel like I don’t accomplish anything. For me, those are the very worst. I think this is one of the many reasons that I love being a writer because I always have a project going. However, this need, when I really should take a break so that I don’t teeter over the edge into complete burnout, isn’t great. So I have to find something else to do on the cold winter nights when I’m not writing. That’s where my knitting comes in.

Confession time. I am a terrible knitter. Seriously. If I made you a sweater, it would come out as a strait jacket. Do yourself a favor and don’t put on anything that I make. Ever.

Once when I was on a writing break, I knitted a whole family of ugly snowmen, including a snowcat and snowdog. (Photo included for your amusement.) I have also knitted pumpkins and Easter bunnies. This is the honest truth. Currently, I am working on a scarf. The project is at the touch-and-go stage. I thought things were going great until I knitted when I should have pearled, and now I have to unravel half of what I have done.

Even though I am a terrible knitter, I find the craft soothing. It keeps my hands busy and gives me a sense of purpose when I need a break from writing. Also, unlike my writing where I hold myself to a high standard, I don’t expect much of my knitting. I know it will be ugly. I know it will make my friends and family laugh, and I’m completely fine with that. It’s liberating to do something for fun with no expectations.

Do you have a craft that you love to do that you are terrible at? I would love to hear about it!

 

Too many sweets spoil the murder . . .

Harvest, Ohio, is a long way from New York City, where Bailey King left a coveted job as a head chocolatier to take over Swissmen Sweets, her Amish grandparents’ candy shop. Now, while caring for her recently widowed grandmother, she plans to honor her grandfather’s memory by entering the annual Amish Confectionery Competition. But between lavender blueberry fudge and chocolate cherry ganache truffles, Bailey may have bitten off more than she can chew when the search for a missing pot-bellied pig turns up a body suffering from sugar overload—the fatal kind . . .

A candy maker from a neighboring town who wanted Englischer Bailey disqualified for being an outsider, Josephine Weaver died from an allergy to an essential licorice ingredient. The suspects include: Josephine’s niece, a young woman going through her rumspringa, or running around time, and Bailey herself. Now it falls to Bailey, who’s sweet on the local sheriff’s deputy, to clear their names and entice a killer with a cast-iron stomach for cold-blooded murder . . .

Recipe Included!

Amanda Flower, a national bestselling and Agatha Award-winning mystery author. She also writes mysteries as USA Today bestselling author Isabella Alan. In addition to being an author, Amanda is librarian in Northeast Ohio. Follow Amanda on Social Media at: Facebook Twitter Instagram

 

Confessions of a Terrible Knitter By Amanda Flower

 

2018 is going to great year for my readers! I will have four books coming out! Two are part of the Amish Candy Shop Mysteries. The first one to release it Lethal Licorice in March. It’s a fun mystery that includes candy, Amish culture, a twisty mystery, and a very mischievous pot-bellied pig. The reason four books are dropping this year is because I wrote four last year, which is a lot. It’s not personal record, which was six novels–completely nuts and will never happen again– but it was enough that I’m tired and need to relax and recharge a bit. I am exhausted.

Here’s the problem with relaxing and recharging, I’m terrible at it. I’m not Amish–never have been. (I thought I should put that out there since I get asked that question a lot since I write about Amish people.) However, I understand the Amish need to be busy ALL THE TIME. I need a project. I hate days where I feel like I don’t accomplish anything. For me, those are the very worst. I think this is one of the many reasons that I love being a writer because I always have a project going. However, this need, when I really should take a break so that I don’t teeter over the edge into complete burnout, isn’t great. So I have to find something else to do on the cold winter nights when I’m not writing. That’s where my knitting comes in.

Confession time. I am a terrible knitter. Seriously. If I made you a sweater, it would come out as a strait jacket. Do yourself a favor and don’t put on anything that I make. Ever.

Once when I was on a writing break, I knitted a whole family of ugly snowmen, including a snowcat and snowdog. (Photo included for your amusement.) I have also knitted pumpkins and Easter bunnies. This is the honest truth. Currently, I am working on a scarf. The project is at the touch-and-go stage. I thought things were going great until I knitted when I should have pearled, and now I have to unravel half of what I have done. Continue reading “Confessions of a Terrible Knitter By Amanda Flower”

Glass Project by Cheryl Hollon

 

Shattered At Sea: A Webb’s Glass Shop Mystery #5

“Hollon clearly knows . . . how to craft a good mystery.” —Sheila Connolly, New York Times bestselling author

A Mediterranean cruise gives glass shop owner Savannah Webb a chance to demonstrate her expertise—and fire up her skills when it comes to foul play . . .

When Savannah signs on to perform glass blowing on a ship that departs from the UK, part of the appeal is that she’ll get a chance to meet her boyfriend Edward’s family. An added bonus is that Edward’s cousin, Ian, will be joining them on board. But when Ian disappears at the beginning of the cruise, the ship’s authorities initially consider it suicide.

Savannah tries to balance her growing suspicions with work on her shows, but her relationship with the other glass artists begins to crack. And she can’t let love color her judgment when Edward suddenly jumps to the top of the suspect list. His fate is in Savannah’s hands, and she’ll do everything she can—on land and sea—to clear his name . . .

Praise for the Webb’s Glass Shop Mystery series

“Hollon hits a homerun.” —RT Book Reviews

“Will keep you guessing to the end!” —Krista Davis, New York Times bestselling author

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Lea Wait – National Crafting Month

Inspirational Women of Deerfield

In my Mainely Needlepoint mystery series my protagonist, Angie Curtis, runs a business in which a group of needlepointers (men and women) in a small Maine harbor town do custom needlepoint for gift shops, decorators, and individual customers, and do their best to identify and restore antique needlepoint.

A unique concept? Perhaps today. But from 1896 until 1926 women in Deerfield, Massachusetts, also banded together under the leadership of Margaret Whiting and Ellen Miller, to revive needlecraft skills lost since colonial days, and literally created a cottage industry.

Studying patterns from the past, ordering linen thread from Scotland and fabric woven by students at Berea College in Kentucky, they trained women (most years twenty to thirty women were in the group,) checked each piece assigned and completed to ensure high quality, and sold the resulting needlework (at first only in three or four shades of blue on white linen) at an annual exhibition and sale. Tablecloths, napkins, doilies, place-mats were decorated with simple, graceful, subjects from nature: strawberries, thistle, clovers, birds, bees, and berries.

People ordered work from the Deerfield Society of Blue and White Needlework in advance, happy to pay the high prices they charged. Today their work is in textile and regional museums. If you find a piece of embroidery from the early twentieth century, look for a “D” inside a circular wheel, and, if you find it, know you have a sample of work by the industrious women of Deerfield.

Continue reading “Lea Wait – National Crafting Month”

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