Tuesday, May 26, 2009


Yum, yum, yum.

I drew and colored the cupcake embellishment, the journaling box and the page title. You can get a copy of the art file by emailing me at SAVETALES@AOL.COM Just put CUPCAKE in the subject box.

We try to get these files out as quickly as possible, but after our newsletter has been out two weeks or more, we don't check that mailbox (savetales@aol.com) as often as we probably should. So...if you want it, tell me FAST.

Here's another set of images we'll send along with the CUPCAKE file--The doodling for THINK PINK which is above CUPCAKES. (For some reason, Blogger refused to let me move THINK PINK below CUPCAKES. Sigh. Life is like that!)

Asparagus and Mushroom Linguine--and a Chance to Win a Copy of Krista's Book!

Krista Davis was kind enough to share the wonderful recipe below.

To win a copy of her Agatha Award nominated book The Diva Runs Out of Thyme become a follower of this blog. That's right...just CLICK the FOLLOW button. On Monday, May 31, I'll post the name of one lucky follower. That person must then email me with her postal details. How simple is that?

Okay, now back to Krista--

This is a delightfully simple recipe that can be served as a side dish with a grilled meat. It can also be served it as a main course for vegetarians, and if you omit the heavy cream, it will suit vegans.

Add a green salad and dinner's ready. Makes three large servings or four normal ones. If you prefer a hotter dish, add crushed red pepper.

Asparagus and Mushroom Linguine

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 bunch asparagus, washed, with the tough ends snapped off
1/2 cup chicken stock
8 ounces white mushrooms
1 cup shitake mushrooms (about six large mushrooms)
2 cloves garlic, chopped
3 tablespoons heavy cream
salt and pepper to taste
cooked linguini
Parmesan cheese

Cook pasta according to instructions on package.

Cut the asparagus into one inch pieces and slice the mushrooms. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet. Add the asparagus and saute over medium heat for about four minutes. Add the chicken stock, the mushrooms and the garlic, stirring occasionally. Cook until the mushrooms begin to soften, then add the heavy cream. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Let simmer three minutes to blend.

Drain the pasta and place a serving on each plate. Spoon the asparagus mushroom mixture over top of the pasta. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese and serve!

Paint Color Sample Birthday Card

Here’s a fun way to recycle those paint color strips you pick up at the hardware store.
(Okay, I know the borders are hard to see...)

1. Cut a 12” x 12” piece of paper in half.
2. Score a 1” x 6” piece along the bottom. (Tip: I use the channel in my personal trimmer for this. I line up the paper with the channel, but instead of running the cutting blade along the channel, I use my bone folder and make a groove.)
3. Make another score 5 ½” from your 1” score. (The card will now have a fold line at 5 ½” and 1”. Fold the piece like a matchbook.
4. Along the bottom WITHOUT the 1” fold, punch out 4 flowers. Center a paint strip behind the flowers, cut off the excess, and tape it down. Use a pen to trace around the flowers for detail. Punch one flower out of the paint strip.
5. Write Happy Birthday and attach the flower.
6. Now, fold the piece like a matchbook with the PLAIN side out. Address goes on the plain side of the card.

Gift Bag Wedding Album or Favor

In Paper, Scissors, Death, my protagonist Kiki Lowenstein creates custom photo albums as “favors” for a bridal shower. That’s lots of fun, but not everyone has a wealthy mother willing to pay for such an extravagant gift. If you are invited to a wedding, here’s a budget minded way to create a lasting memory for any bride! These also make great "favors" for the bridal party.

1. Untie and remove the ribbon handles of a 5” x 6” gift bag. Keep them for later.

2. Carefully cut off the bottom of a gift bag. (Tip: The bottom is usually reinforced with cardstock. Tear that out first. Then, pry up the folds. Flatten those out and cut them off.) Now cut apart the bag so you have two rectangles, 5” x 6” each. These will be your album covers.

3. Cut two "liners" to hide the “wrong” side and to reinforce your two covers. (Tip: Make your liners a complementary color of paper. Run a gold pen around the edges of your liners before you adhere the liners to the inside of the covers.)
(Above is the inside of the project.)

4. Go to the clip art section of MS Word and find a wedding image you like. Create inside pages for your album by using clip art. (Tip: When assembled, your album cover will fold open. Any image on your inside pages must fit inside. So, for my book, the inside page had a 1” left hand margin that I kept free of words and images. That margin was bound into the spine of my book.)

5. Assemble your book. The holes where the ribbon handles were are now the holes for your brads! I used heart-shaped brads and backed them with flowers. (Tip: Punch holes through your inside pages that are in line with the holes on your covers.) Add cover art if desired. (Tip: Reprint your clip art and use it in a larger version on your cover. I used the ribbons from the handles to accent the wedding bells.)

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Great Free Memorial Day Journaling Box

Here's a terrific free journaling box perfect for Memorial Day and honoring our servicemen and servicewomen.


You know, Mary Englebreit said it best when she was talking at the Scrap St. Louis event. She marveled about there is so much great free design work on the Internet! And this journaling box is just one more example of that!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Sales of Cut, Crop and Die to Benefit Homeless Great Danes

Once again, MAGDRL (the Mid-Atlantic Great Dane Rescue League) is teaming up with mystery author Joanna Campbell Slan for a special fundraiser.

Joanna's new mystery, "Cut, Crop & Die" features a rescue Harlequin Great Dane named Gracie and Joanna has agreed to donate 50% of the sales price to MAGDRL during this special promotion when you order your books through the link below. The book has received great reviews and, in addition to a Great Dane tie-in, it's about scrapbooking, so whether you love mysteries, scrapbooking, or Great Danes (or all three!), you'll enjoy the book. From now until 7 June, order a copy of the book through the link below and MAGDRL benefits. Joanna will personally sign special bookplates for the book(s) you order, making them a perfect keepsake for you, or for gift-giving. Your book will be shipped to you, with your signed bookplate (if you want one) the week of 15 June.For more information, and to order your book(s), see this special page on the MAGDRL website. http://www.magdrl.org/bookFundraiser.htm

PLEASE REMEMBER -- When you order, put what you want as an inscription on the bookplate in the comments section of the order. If you don't want a personal inscription, you'll get a bookplate with Joanna's signature only.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Claire Hanover's Tips for Creating an Effective Gift Basket

Kiki Lowenstein has invited me to give her blog readers some tips about making effective gift baskets. I can tell you that after the adventures I had in Beth Groundwater’s To Hell in a Handbasket, I am ready to return to my basement workroom and just create gift baskets for a while!

One of the gift baskets I put together during that time was a sympathy basket for Angela Contino, whose daughter was killed on a Breckenridge, Colorado ski slope. Here’s what I remember of a conversation between my daughter Judy and me about that basket:

“Thank you cards and a pen won’t fill a basket,” Judy said. “What else do you have in mind?”

“Some soothing things, like scented candles or a book of uplifting poems. Are the Continos religious?”

“Catholic. Nick doesn’t go to church much, but his mom attends mass every Sunday.”

“Okay, some religious poetry or a book about taking your grief to God, or something like that. And some soft music. A gift basket should have something for every sense—taste, smell, sight, touch, and sound. What kind of music do Nick’s parents enjoy?”

Judy thought for a moment. “Classical, I think.”

“Good, I’ll ask at the stationary store where we can find some nice CDs.”

This conversation covers two of my most important guidelines for creating gift baskets that will be appreciated and remembered. The first is to really know the recipient’s interests and tastes. That way you can tailor the basket’s contents to match, the same way I took into account Angela Contino’s Catholic religion and enjoyment of classical music. The second guideline is to include something for all the senses. The music was for Angela’s ears, the scented candle for her nose, and later I found some soothing chamomile herb tea for her mouth.

I usually pick one main color and two complementary accent colors for each gift basket. In this case, I found a dyed wicker basket that matched the colors in the Contino ski house living room so the basket could be used to hold reading materials later. They have a dark green leather sofa and stone-inlaid coffee table and fireplace, so dark green, gray, and brick red were the colors woven into the basket. I also used those colors for the decorations—a fancy bow and dried flowers, and for the lining, a soft, woven wrap scarf that could be used to warm a grieving woman or to drape decoratively over a chair later.

The basket couldn’t take away Angela Contino’s grief, but it let her know that we were thinking of her. It may have brought her some comfort, and it contained useful items such as the pen and thank you cards that she could use in the days ahead. And, while delivering that basket to the Contino home, I happened to discover an important clue to the mystery of who killed Stephanie and why!

With gift baskets, it is truly the thought that counts. I encourage everyone to put together gift baskets for special occasions, and don’t worry about it looking amateurish. To read the rest of my Tips for Making Perfect Gift Baskets, visit the Articles page of Beth Groundwater’s website at http://bethgroundwater.com/ . Also on her website are reviews, excerpts, discussion questions, and more information about her books, a schedule of her appearances, and the full schedule of her blog book tour.

I’d love to answer here any questions you have about gift baskets, and Beth will be available, too, to answer questions about her books and writing.

You can purchase To Hell in a Handbasket and A Real Basket Case by ordering them at your local bookstore, or by going to one of the following links:

- http://search.barnesandnoble.com/booksearch/results.asp?ATH=Beth+Groundwater- http://tinyurl.com/Beth-Books-at-Amazon

Contest announcement:

If you comment on this article or ask Claire or Beth a question today, or comment on Beth's blog (http://bethgroundwater.blogspot.com/) anytime during her May blog book tour, you will be entered into a drawing for an autographed set of both books in the Claire Hanover gift basket designer mystery series: A REAL BASKET CASE and TO HELL IN A HANDBASKET. Good luck!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The Winner

Sandy B. from Monroe City IN won our autographed set of Best First Novels from our Malice Competition. Congrats to you, Sandy!