Friday Dance Party

Should you stay or should you go?  Oh, definitely stay, because it’s that time of the week again!  You know, where you get up on your feet and shake, shake, shake your booty?  (Hah!  Fooled you, that’s not it!) Riding on the coat tails of last week’s Billy Idol tune, here’s another snarling punk band.  Give it up for The Clash and Should I Stay or Should I Go!

What’s Your Poison? 6 Espresso Drinks You Should Know (and try!)


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Since I write a cozy mystery series (the Coffee & Crime Mysteries) about the owner of a coffee shop, I read a lot about coffee.  And as much as my doctor might wish otherwise, I drink a lot of coffee.  Now, granted, I am not much of a connoisseur – I like a little coffee with my sugar and cream.  However, I make a point to actually taste various types of coffee (without the sugar and cream), so that I am able to experience and recognize the difference, say, between a Hawaii Kona and a Jamaican Blue Mountain; a dark roast versus a light roast; or a blend versus a single origin.  It’s fun and informative and I’m hoping to share more coffee lore in my books as time progresses.

One of the things I get asked most about is the difference between the various espresso drinks.  So I thought I’d create a little blog post about it.

What is an espresso drink?

The basics:  An espresso drink is one that contains espresso (typically created in a machine by forcing steam through ground coffee beans), steamed milk, and foam in various amounts and in various layered combinations.

An Espresso & an Espresso - a marriage made in heaven!

Espresso & Espresso – a match made in heaven!

Some espresso drinks also contain other ingredients (like chocolate or other flavored syrups, or whipped cream), but all espresso drinks contain the basic three ingredients of espresso, steamed milk, and foam.

My Favorite Espresso Drinks

Cappuccino:  This is probably one of the most often ordered drinks, and likely the first thing you ordered at a Starbucks (outside of a pumpkin spice latte perhaps).  A cappuccino should be made with equal parts espresso, steamed milk and foamed milk, in that order.  Because of the layering, many good coffee houses will serve drinks like this in glass cups or short tumbler, so you can also appreciate the drink visually.

Latte:  If you’re at all familiar with romance languages, you might be able to guess what a latte is all about.  Yup – milk.  A shot of espresso goes in the bottom of the cup (or a tumbler glass, outside of the States) and the rest of the cup is filled with steamed milk, giving the drink a sweeter taste.  Then, a soupçon of milk foam is added to the top.

Cafe Latte

A Lotta Latte

Macchiato:  The macchiato is a step down from the strength of a straight espresso.  Layering is important here and a good barista (like those at my favorite local coffee shop, The Conscious Cup, in Crystal Lake) will make sure that there is a dark espresso layer on the bottom, a layer where the espresso and a little blop of steamed milk mix, and then the finishing layer of foamed milk (some coffee houses I’ve been to omit the foam).

Mocha:  Ah, the joys of chocolate and coffee combined!  The mocha is my go-to coffee drink in the winter.  It’s 50/50 espresso (on the bottom) and chocolate syrup, topped with steamed milk.  Sweet, rich, powerful, it’s a great pick-me-up for those chilly mornings when neither me nor my car want to start up.  Some people like to put whipped cream on top.  I say, go right ahead, there’s always room for whipped cream!

Mocha Mocha Mocha!

Mocha Mocha Mocha!

Americano:  Most espresso drinks call for a shot (30 ml) of espresso.  If you need more volume, but not more jazz (as in a Doppio, where you’d get double the amount of espresso), then you could opt for an Americano, which is the standard espresso shot coupled with twice the amount of hot water.

Cortado:  Not always on the coffee menu here in the Midwest, the Cortado is one of my favorites when I really need a java fix.  A popular drink in Spain, hence the Spanish rather than Italian name, it’s espresso mixed with an equal amount of steamed milk, and is creamy rather than foamy.  Plus, because it is not layered, I can mix in a ton of sugar without anyone being the wiser and calling me a coffee Philistine!

The Cortado

The Cortado – Olé!

There are many more, but I’ll leave some for a future post.  If there’s a coffee drink you’d like to know more about, or want to share YOUR favorite coffee drink, please leave a comment!  I love to hear from you all.  Now, at least, the next time you’re in line at your favorite coffee shop, you’ll be armed with some information, and can perhaps step outside your comfort zone and try something new.  Or, maybe you’ll just impress the the guy or gal in line behind you with your exceptional coffee knowledge!

Be sure to linger over your coffee.  Enjoy it, make it a ritual instead of just slugging it back.  It is a delectable pleasure to be savored.  As the mother of a dear friend used to say, “Just one more sip, George.”

As always,

Illegitimi non carborundum!






How Did They Build the Pyramids? One Brick at a Time.


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So I’m frantic busy trying to finish the first draft on the fourth Ellie Gooden/Coffee & Crime mystery.  It’s due to my editor at the end of July.  The clock is ticking.  I was making steady progress until Wednesday when I was slammed with Stupid Real Life Stuff and I got totally derailed.  I began to wonder if I was ever going to finish this one.

dog and keyboard

Made me wonder how those poor Egyptians felt, staring up at the empty space that would one day be the Great Pyramid, then looking at the seventeen or so stones laid on the ground and wondering how on earth they were ever going to create what Imhotep drew out for them.


But, Sunday I pulled myself up by my boot straps and planted my butt in the chair and managed to put down 2100 or so words.  It felt good, and suddenly that pyramid I’m building didn’t seem quite so daunting.  I might only be halfway to the summit, but I can see the gleaming golden cap over the brilliant white sandstone blocks, shining like a beacon to the heavens… just like this newest Coffee & Crime mystery will outshine all the rest of the cozy paranormals out there for sale on the ‘Zon this fall.

Or…  maybe I’ve just been out in the sun too long and I’m starting to see things.  At any rate, the way those poor, loin-clothed, bare-torso’d wretches built that pyramid is the same way I’m going to write this book.  One lousy brick at a time.  Yes, I’ll probably need some sledges to haul the stones, and some water to quench my thirst and maybe even a foreman or two to crack the whip over my head (hey Nano pals, you hear that?  You get to play with my Indiana Jones whip!).  But I got this.



Gratuitous Indy Pic!

Anyhoo.  I haven’t been in touch in a while and I just wanted to let you know that I’m still here.  Still dragging the stones up the slanted ramp, all Sisyphus-like.  Still sweating under the hot Egyptian sun for the glory of Ra.  Heh heh.  Or something like that.  Keep on, keeping on, fellow babies.  And as always,

Illegitimi non carborundum!

Friday Dance Party!


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I asked fans on my FB page yesterday if anyone had suggestions for today’s Friday Dance Party tune and I got some interesting suggestions.   So today you get TWO for the price of ONE!  First, something with a nice, funky beat.  I give you the Commodores and Brick House.  This is a song that my daughter used to dance to when she was three!


And then, from another fan, something a little hipper and wilder.  I present for your viewing pleasure The New York Dolls and Dance Like A Monkey!  Come on, shake it like a monkey like you just don’t care!


That’s all for today, my friends!  Keep it loose and as always,

Illegitimi non carborundum!

Exciting News!


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Hello, fellow babies!  Exciting news for you.  I’ll be signing books (and drink napkins and whatever else floats your boat) at the Barnes and Noble in Crystal Lake, IL on Thursday, July 27th as part of their New Writers Night.  If you’d like to come out to meet me, ask me to introduce you to Charlie (I get that a lot), beg me to include you in the next Coffee & Crime mystery, or just to hob nob with the local literary elite, be there at 6 o’clock sharp!  I’m so excited that my books will physically be in a real book store, I’m ready to explode!

As Bob Barker would say, come on down!  We’ll have a blast and I’ll share with you what’s going to happen next for Ellie Gooden, Charlie, Erik the Red and the whole crew from Horizon, Wisconsin!

Hope to see you there!

new writers night

Does Your Dog Bite?

Sometimes it’s the little things…

… that grab you by the short hairs and make a mess of your nice, organized life.


“Does your dog bite?”

Case in point.  A few weeks ago, noticing that the Admiral (aka Nelson, the very pushy poodle) was getting very shaggy, and needed an appointment with his barber (read: groomer) and knowing that my husband, who usually takes him, was working a lot of hours, I called, scheduled an appointment for a Saturday and took Nelson in myself.  The ‘barber’ (shh, don’t let him hear you say groomer, he gets all weird about it), was insanely busy, with every table taken and every, um, let’s call them ‘spa cubicles’ (Don’t say crate.  Don’t ever say crate!) filled.  I passed Nels to the wife of our – ahem – barber, who’s been taking care of Nelson’s sartorial needs for several years now, made sure she had my phone number and toddled out.

Feeling accomplished, and a little smug, I went home and got on with the rest of my day.  I was working on a particularly intense chapter in my novel, and was startled when barely forty minutes later the phone rang.  “Hi,” said I.  “Are you done already?”

“Actually, there’s been a little problem.”

Uh oh.  “Problem?  What kind of problem?”  Had they nicked him?  Clipped his toe nails too close?  What on earth?

“Um, Nelson bit Dan.”

Oh crap.  “Oh my gosh, is he okay?”  Visions of expensive medical bills, getting sued, maybe even having to put the dog down…

“Oh he’s fine.  It didn’t break the skin.  But Nelson is now curled up in a corner and won’t come out.”

It was a shocker.  Nelson has always behaved marvelously at the groom– I mean, barber.  I never imagined something like this.

Now, don’t get me wrong, Nelson has his crabby dog moments.   To hear Nelson tell it, his ‘fits of pique’ are only natural.  After all, it’s stressful being the driving force behind the British Navy.  He says it’s a constant a struggle to lead his crew with only one arm (at which point I have to remind him that he does, indeed, have all four paws), that no one truly appreciates his dedication to the Queen.  (Queen?  You mean me, you dinglefutz?) Yes, the Admiral is a prima donna.

Lord Admiral Nelson

But I never thought he’d actually nip anyone.

Our ‘barber’ was super sweet when I went to pick up the little monster.  We talked about what was different this time – lots and lots of dogs there (which makes the Admiral anxious), the fact that he had to be put in a crate, (which makes him really anxious) and lastly, and probably the real kicker, I was the one who dropped him off.  Now, you have to remember, my husband is ALWAYS the one to drop him off.  And Nelson is a mama’s boy.  I think he must have thought I was abandoning him there – or something.  So the barber and I agreed to give the little knucklehead a few weeks to calm down/forget the whole thing and try again.

So.  Fast forward two weeks.  Husband took the Admiral back to the barber this morning.  Took him straight in, and Nelson’s barber took him back to the basin for his wash right away, and even the barber’s wife held him after he was finished until hubby could pick him up (which was only a couple of minutes) so he didn’t have to be put in a crate – I mean, spa cubicle.  The upshot?  Nelson was absolutely golden.

All of which tells me two things.  One, screwing with the Admiral’s routine is bad.  Like, crossing the streams, bad.

Crossing the Streams

“Egon, you said crossing the streams was bad.”

Two, the Admiral has me, and pretty much everyone else, wrapped around his furry little pinkie tighter than a choke chain on a lunging chihuahua.  Tell me something I didn’t know, right?

And just for fun, here are the before and after shots.  Yes, that is the same dog. 😁

The Admiral Avant et Apres Barber

The Admiral Avant et Apres Barber

Like I said, it’s the little things…

Keep it cool, fellow babies.  And as always,

Illegitimi non carborundum!