October 2015 Calendar – Soup’s On

Posted by on Oct 5, 2015 in *Calendars*, *Smitty & The Girl Series* | 2 Comments



October Calendar Some Kitchen Stories



The Murder Mystery Year: Chapter 10

Last time…

When Clemmons opened her eyes, only Gibbs was in the room. He frowned down at her, his old face creased in concern. “Take a deep breath,” he counseled. “Did you hit your head? I couldn’t tell.”

She tried to shake her head no, that she hadn’t and felt a fuzzy sort of pain. “What happened?” And before he could answer, she remembered the scene. She took a sideways look around the room. “Where did everyone go?”

“The rookie, Turner, took them into the hall.” Gibbs shifted on his feet. He was in a crouch beside her and his back was bad. He grimaced. “Help me up,” she said and grabbed his arm. “We have to find that bag, the one Freddy described. We have to find it in this house.” She pushed the hair out of her eyes. From the way Gibbs looked at her, she knew she looked as wild as she felt. She didn’t care. She gripped his arm. 

“Clemmons…”

That bag he described,” she said. It felt like the words were chalk, in her mouth. “I know that bag.” She looked around the room, in the big house on top of the hill, and shook her head. “We were just talking about her too,” she murmured.

Gibbs frowned. “Talking about who? Whose bag?”

“My grandmother.” Clemmons tried to feel the floor beneath her feet.  

More Smitty stories

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Well, hello. Are you surprised to see us? Me too.

In the way that life is ridiculous and weird, Nicole and I decided to take a break from blogging at exactly the same time. Her reason for a mini-break had been cooking for a while and is quite delicious. My reason was nonexistent three months ago and is now undeniably real.

And now here we are, back far sooner than I expected. Maybe it’s not so surprising- when your daily view change so drastically, so suddenly, maybe it’s helpful to head for a terrain you know well. For Nicole, it’s baking sheets and her camera and for me, it’s baking sheets and computer keys. In a way, it makes perfect sense. Last night, after days of looking around the house in equal parts shock and overwhelmed, I turned the oven on and took a deep breath, imagined my equilibrium sliding back into place. I’m not quite there yet but getting closer. Day by day.

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September 2015 Calendar

Posted by on Sep 1, 2015 in *Calendars*, *Smitty & The Girl Series* | 2 Comments



Calendar_template_Sept



The Murder Mystery Year: Chapter 9

Last time…

“Let me review the chain of events,” Clemmons announced in a loud, clear voice. Even the other officers in the room turned and stopped their conversations. “According to you all… Sylvia Mathers awoke first in the house, went downstairs, put on a pot of coffee in the kitchen. She then heard a commotion and discovered her nieces, these two gingers-“

“Rude.”

“In the hall, arguing. She ushered them both into the office off the kitchen and they proceeded to argue, loudly enough to draw Aggie, the maid, downstairs where she entered the fray. Then, the front door opened and the whole lot of you trooped into the hallway, encountered the Newells and all started arguing. Young Freddie escaped to the terrace and on then heard a noise, what could’ve been the sound of our victim getting knocked in the head. And here’s where our story falls apart completely.” She glared at all of them. “Because according to all of you, you each stumbled upon the body in the parlor first, screamed and drew the others.” They all started talking and she held up a hand, silencing them. “I’m inclined to believe Freddie, however, when he happens to mention to me that he heard a specific thud, went through the kitchen and came upon the body himself. And it makes sense to me,” she added slowly, “that a room full of adults who have seemingly nothing to do with each other, have one thing in common, actually. Every person in this room is related by blood to Freddie Newell.” She pointed to Sylvia. “Great aunt.” To Aggie. “Grandmother.” To Petula and Rose. “Mother and aunt.” To Lily. “Grandmother.” And finally, to Mike. “Father. Which means, if there was one person all of you would be trying to protect, it would be this child. But!” she said suddenly as Lily started to moan. “I do not believe Freddie did it. I believe he found the body, yes, but I don’t think he did it. So you can all relax. But not too much,” she said smoothly. From behind her, she pulled out a box. “Because I think the murderer is very much in this room. And this is going to help me suss it out.”

“How?” Mike Newell blurted out. He looked pale with shock. Clemmons eyed him. 

“Freddie tripped on a purse on his way to the parlor door. I want to know which one.” She set them all out one by one on the table and Freddie stared. “The purse wasn’t there earlier because it’s in the path of the office to the hallway and if you all trooped out, surely one of you would’ve seen it. So someone, I believe, snuck away, went to the kitchen, grabbed an item from their purse and used it to kill Frank Mathers Jr. Freddie,” she said, calmly. “Did you trip over one of these purses?”

Freddie looked over all of them. “No,” he said and he looked just as surprised as Clemmons felt. “No,” he insisted before she could say a word. “The one I tripped over had a long strap.”

“Well, there goes that theory,” Sylvia snorted. Aggie elbowed her in the ribs.

“Hmmm.” Clemmons frowned. She looked at Lily’s bag, soft and black and old, the strap short. At Rose’s satchel and Sylvia’s clutch. “Are you sure-“

“Yes.” Freddie spoke clearly, his eyes bright. “The bag had a long strap. And there was a sharp spike on the end. A sharp, silver spike.” Clemmons stared at him. “I know because it jabbed me in the leg when I tripped.”

Clemmons’ mouth had gone dry. It was remarkable that she could even get the words out. “What color was the bag?” From across the room, Gibbs looked at her, concerned at the way she said the words, almost like a plea. 

“It was blue,” he said definitively. “It was bright blue.”

And Clemmons fainted dead away.

_________________________________________________________________

SEPTEMBER. One of the most beautiful and treasured months of the year. The smell of pencil shavings and chug of school buses and cool, late summer breezes and gently turning leaves. It’s also a tough month if you suffer from depression (due to the light change) so tread with a little more kindness this month, would you? To yourself and the people around you- give the benefit of the doubt more, smile more, give more compliments, be a little quieter, ask for help from the right people more. If you’re more blue than usual in September, you’re not alone. If you’re generally okay, then take care of yourself a little more this month- so you can be stronger for those who are struggling.

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August 2015 Calendars – Holy Guacamole

Posted by on Aug 2, 2015 in *Calendars*, *Smitty & The Girl Series* | One Comment



August 2015 Calendar Guacamole



Smitty & The Girl

The Murder Mystery Year: Chapter 8

Last time… 

Petula waited for the right moment and, as soon as the fat officer was distracted, slipped to the opposite corner of the room to stand beside her sister. “I need your help.”

Rose turned to stare at her, far too openly for Petula’s liking. “No kidding. You need my help?” She crossed her arms over her chest. “Because we’re knee-deep into it now? And the cops are here? And our terrible, horrible aunt is here? And our mother is here and can’t stop looking at us and crying for five seconds? And then there’s the Newells. The sweet, sweet Newell family and your long-lost son-“

“All right, all right,” Petula hissed. “I get it. Can you please keep your voice down? And maybe stop listing all of the ways this is seriously messed up? Listen to me,” she said. “That other cop, the lady, took Freddy out of here when no one was looking. They’ve been gone for a while.”

“So?” But the usual edge was gone from Rose’s voice and her eyes darted over the room.

“Rose.”

“Yeah, yeah, I know.”

“Rose, when we walked in, it was Freddy standing over Da-,” Petula’s voice cracked, “Over the body.”

“I know,” Rose snapped. “I know what I saw.” There was a sudden noise behind them, a clamor of activity. They both turned to watch Lily Newell break away from her conversation with the fat cop. He raised a hand to quiet her but she seemed to have realized Freddy was gone too and soon her voice was pitched over the din of the room. “No. No! Where is he? Where’s Freddy? Do not- don’t tell me to calm down. He is a minor! If he is being questioned-“

“He’s right here, Mrs. Newell.” The lady cop had appeared with Freddy, pale and wide-eyed behind her. She looked at everyone in the room. “Freddy was very helpful. He wants to find out what happened here as much as I do. And I think I finally know how to get the truth out of you people.”

More Smitty stories

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June 2015 Calendar – Mexican Street Corn

Posted by on Jun 2, 2015 in *Calendars*, *Smitty & The Girl Series* | One Comment



Mexican Street Corn Calendar from SKS



Smitty & The Girl

The Murder Mystery Year: Chapter 6

Last time… 

It didn’t take long for Clemmons to get the kid alone. Gibbs simply walked into the room where the suspects gathered, made a big fuss over everyone heading into the kitchen for something to eat and hustled Mike Newell and his mother in first; no one noticed Clemmons hang back with Freddie. 

“Look, here’s the deal,” she told him frankly. The kid looked at her with eyes that were glazed over from a combination of tired and shock. “I know this is rough. I want you all to be able to go home as much as you probably do. I can’t do that until I get statements from everyone.”

“I’m a minor,” Freddie Newell said quietly. He was skinny as a rail and had a streak of blue hair but he spoke with an assurance of a man twice his age. “If you want to get my statement, my father needs to be here.”

“Right.” Clemmons narrowed her eyes, interested in the way he watched the two redheads trail out of the room. One of the women, the one who was distinctly not a former cop, glanced over her shoulder, caught Freddy’s eye and looked away, her face flushed red. Clemmons thought back to all the town gossip she’d heard over the years- wasn’t there something about the Newell kid and the Mathers, she thought. “Petunia Mathers is your mom. Isn’t she?”

“Petula Mathers,” Freddie replied. He’d gone slightly pale. “She left when I was born.” He cleared his throat and she didn’t miss the disdain in his eyes when he looked at her now. “I guess everybody in town knows.”

Clemmons nodded. “If it makes you feel better,” she said. “I know a little bit about that. My family had its share of the town gossip around the time I was born.” He had no response to that but she knew he was listening. “I didn’t know my mama either. My gran raised me. She wasn’t a stranger to the Mathers either. Used to work in this house, in fact.” 

Freddie looked at her now. “Did she know my gr- did she know Frank Mathers? The guy who d-died?”

“A little.” Clemmons offered him a grim smile. “I just want to help, Freddie. I want to know what really happened here. Can you help me? Shed a little light?” 

More Smitty stories

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Let me sum up life for you- there are tomato slices slow-roasting in the oven. There is banana bread cooling on the counter. It’s raining (drip-drip-drip). And someone just discovered that this is currently free on Amazon Instant Video.

What I’m saying is, as of now, June could be a lot worse.

Get the recipe for Mexican Street Corn here.

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May 2015 Calendar

Posted by on May 3, 2015 in *Calendars*, *Smitty & The Girl Series* | One Comment



Calendar_template_May



Smitty & The Girl

The Murder Mystery Year: Chapter 5

Last time… 

The other officers came and the coroner with them. Clemmons sat in the study with Gibb, alone, and frowned over her notes. “Something’s fishy here.”

“How so?”

She tapped her pen against the paper. “I interviewed all of them, alone, and they all had different stories about how they ended up in the house with the body. As expected. But-“

“But?”

“They all said they found the body first.” Clemmons shook her head. “They all made it sound like they walked into the parlor and Mathers was dead on the floor. No one was alerted by screams or shouts. They all claim to have found the body.”

“What about the ruckus that Bobby Mulpepper reported?”

“Oh, right, the ruckus. Sylvia claims it was a result of them ‘breaking into her house.'” She leaned back on the loveseat and clutched her pad in her hand. “Everyone except the kid.” When Gibb looked at her, she shrugged. “He’s a minor, I couldn’t talk to him without his parents present and that Mike Newell wouldn’t let him say a word.” 

“Let me see.” She handed the pad to Gibb and he studied her shorthand. He flipped through the pages. “Maybe they all walked into the room together, at the same time.” She snorted. “We ask them any more questions and they’ll lawyer up.”

“I know it.” Clemmons sighed. “If I could just get to the kid alone…”

“Clemmons-“

“I know, I know.” She waved him off. “This is crucial, Gibb. As soon as they go in different directions, we’re sunk. I need all the pieces now. They can’t have time to corroborate their stories.”

“What if it was just an accident?” Gibb asked. He let out a grunt and removed a granola bar from his pocket. She stared at him. “What?”

“First of all, the man was clearly bludgeoned with something, did you see the angle of that head wound? Second, didn’t you eat a little while ago?” When he looked at her blankly, she prodded. “You ran out for Chinese, remember? When we first got on shift? Give me that.” She took a hunk of his granola bar and chewed on it for a minute. “I gotta talk to that kid.”

“You need to eat something too. Getting cranky. Here.” He handed her the rest of his granola bar and stood up. “All right, let’s go.” When she didn’t move, he hiked up his belt. “You want to talk to the kid, I’ll get you the kid. Let’s go.” He cast a glance around the study and shook his head. “This place gives me the creeps.”

More Smitty stories

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I have to say, April was a pretty good month. I worked a ton (but got to take a little vacation, which felt decidedly earned, always a good feeling). I reorganized my kitchen and now have more counter space and it is AMAZING how that one small change has made me want to cook and experiment so much more than I did before. The insane amount of snow we had in Portland finally melted all the way and now I’ve almost forgotten what the streets used to look like (oh right, like this). And speaking of Portland, Tandem Bakery got a nice write-up in Bon Appetit this month, yay. (I may have cancelled my subscription to Bon Appetit this month because of #UnrelentingHipsterNonsense but still!)

Bring it on May! We’re ready for you.

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April 2015 Calendar – Pasta Primavera

Posted by on Apr 3, 2015 in *Calendars*, *Smitty & The Girl Series* | 2 Comments



April 2015 Calendar from Some Kitchen Stories



Smitty & The Girl

The Murder Mystery Year: Chapter 4

Last time | More Smitty Stories

Officer Clemmons led Sylvia Mathers through the kitchen and down the hall until she found the right room. It appeared to have been an office once, though most of the furniture was covered with sheets to protect them from dust and it didn’t have a desk. She was surprised when the woman hesitated in the doorway. “Problem?”

“N-no.” Mathers narrowed her eyes. She was fair skinned and so pale that the few freckles on her skin stood out. “Why this room? There are other rooms.” 

“We don’t want to get too far from the scene,” Clemmons replied coolly. “And I can watch the street from here. There are more police offers coming,” she added when the woman stared at her blankly. “You have a dead body in your parlor, Mrs. Mathers.”

“It’s Miss and I’m fully aware that my brother is dead.” Some color had returned to the woman’s face and heat to her voice. She’d squared her shoulders and lifted her chin. Was there a place rich people went to practice that haughty look? 

“I’m sorry for your loss.” Clemmons lifted a sheet that covered two chairs and pulled it down to the floor. “Have a seat.”

Sylvia Mathers complied and for the first time, Clemmons realized she was in a nightgown and a light robe. “I suppose you’ll want to change.” She pursed her lips and took a cursory look at the woman’s sleeping clothes, saw no smudges of blood or grime. When she raised her head once more, Mathers was frowning. 

“You look familiar to me.” 

“There’s six cops in this town,” Clemmons replied. “And you get a lot of speeding tickets, Ms. Mathers.” She flipped to a fresh page in her notebook. “They stand out because they’re usually on account of your jalopy going too slow. Don’t see a lot of those.”

Mathers’ frown remained. “What’s your name? Last name?” When Clemmons told her, the woman’s eyes trailed down to her hands. She wore no wedding ring there but a loop around her neck. It wasn’t long before the woman’s raving eyes sought it out. “Your maiden name.”

“Marrion.” Clemmons dropped her hands and her notebook and stood, her back straight and her own chin up now. “My grandmother worked in this house. For you.”

There was shadow over the woman’s eyes. “Marrion. Esther Marrion.”

“That’s her.”

“That would’ve been during my mother’s reign,” Sylvia Mathers said. Her voice was still cool. “You must give her my apologies, the next time you see her.”

Clemmons blinked. She asked the question, despite herself. “For what?”

“For everything,” the woman replied. “Absolutely everything.”

_______________________________________________________________________

It’s spring! Sort of! It’s getting there!

Thank you to everyone who celebrated our 4th Blog-iversary with us. We have a lot of great stuff planned for this year. This weekend, in particular, I plan to tackle this and this. (I’ll share the results, good and bad, on Instagram.) Wish me luck. If you’re celebrating Easter or Passover this weekend, hope it’s lovely and filled with family and FOOD. Mwah!

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Looking for the recipe? Check it out here.

March 2015 Calendar – We are 4

Posted by on Mar 2, 2015 in *Calendars*, *Smitty & The Girl Series* | 3 Comments



Calendar_template_March



Smitty & The Girl

The Murder Mystery Year: Chapter 3

Last time | More Smitty Stories

As soon as Clemmons left the room, Gibb lost control of it. Everyone in it started yammering at once, with the exception of the teenage boy and the corpse that lay at their feet. 

A lot of the questions were for Gibb, he realized with a grimace as they descended on him. Sylvia Mathers was the loudest, blathering about lawyers and rights and before Gibb had realized what had happened, they had all taken out their phones and hitting keys frantically. “Hey. Hey!” He glared at them all and put his hands on his sizable waist. “Nobody needs a lawyer right now,” he barked. Not yet, he thought. He let out a breath to calm himself and the group of them seemed to relax a little too. Or at least they put their phones away just as two of the women started to cry. 

Gibb looked at them, feeling somewhat helpless. He was a resolute bachelor, in part because he found the behavior of women to be outright befuddling and always had. “All right, all right,” he said gruffly. He shooed the two women toward the corner, relieved when they sat down. “Calm yourself, ladies. Jesus.”

It was the bartender who suggested, quietly, that he cover the body with a sheet. Gibb saw him glance up at his son, who had pulled out headphones from somewhere and continued to stare out the window as if something would appear to give him a clue as to what was happening inside. Gibb glanced down at the stiff. “We can’t disturb the evidence,” he replied and he was only partly sure this was the case. 

“Shouldn’t we go into another room?” one of the younger women, the one in the leather jacket, snapped. “Wouldn’t that solve everything?”

“Nobody’s going anywhere.” Clemmons had rejoined them. She put her phone away. “Not until we find out what happened here. I don’t want anyone to leave my sight or Gibb’s, until we get all your stories down.” She glanced over at the Mulpepper boy. “You with them the whole time?” He nodded, still green around the gills. “Good. All right, ma’am,” she said to Sylvia Mathers. “If you’ll follow me.” 

The murderer watched as she led the lady of the house out of the room.

__________________________________________________________________________________

We are 4 years old this month, you guys! I cannot believe this site has been up for 4 years. Without fail, our little blogiversary never fails to sneak up on us. It’s like we’re so busy griping about winter and brushing the dusting of snow off our hands that we completely forget that St. Patrick’s Day is coming, along with longer, sunnier days and oh, yes, a time for us to celebrate.

We’ve got fun stuff planned for our celebration so get excited! (bossy)

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January 2015 Calendar – Drink It Up!

Posted by on Jan 1, 2015 in *Calendars*, *Smitty & The Girl Series* | 2 Comments



January 2015 Calendar from Some Kitchen Stories



Smitty & The Girl

The Murder Mystery Year: Chapter 1

Read the First 39 Episodes  Petula and her twin sister Rose were about to have it out in a field on the edge of town. Frank and Sylvia Mathers suffered through a family reunion of their own as the beleaguered maid Aggie looks on. And Lily Newell took matters into her own hands, steering her son and grandson to the Mathers mansion and right into a confrontation that’s been fifteen years in the making.

Cliffwood was a quiet town, more quiet than most. Being a policeman in a hamlet like Cliffwood, therefore, attracted a certain personality-type. 

The five men and two women who made up the Cliffwood Police had stayed at the Cliffwood Police Station because they all enjoyed variations of the same thing: peace and quiet. For some, that meant fishing. For others, it meant long naps. Walks in Ferrer Woods. Hunting. More fishing. They didn’t mind the small mound of paperwork or the patrols. They played chess and checkers at an abandoned desk in the corner of the station (once belonging to a town youth named Watts who up and left the Cliffwood force after three months, for the big city for some excitement. They wished him well.) They accepted calls from Cliffwood residents about cats stuck up in trees and grannies who were lost and wandering in neighbor’s yards. Occasionally, a young punk was dragged in with a can of spray paint and he begged to be booked, only to have his mother called instead. 

That night, there were two officers on duty in the station. Clemmons and Gibb sat on opposite sides of a chess board and studied their next moves. Clemmons was young, black and female. Gibbs was old, white and male. They had opted for the same shifts that week by pure circumstance (Clemmons’ husband had snagged day shifts at Cliffwood Medical for the next month and Gibbs thought the day shift had gotten too “rowdy” and that the night shift would be a nice change of pace) and were amiable enough company. For one thing, they were the only two officers in Cliffwood who played chess instead of checkers.

For another, when Tom Mulpepper burst through the station doors, out of breath, his hair standing up as if in shock, his eyes wide, and told them there’d been a murder at the Mather house on the hill, both Clemmons and Gibb thought it was a joke. 

It took only a few minutes, a jigger of whiskey from Gibb’s desk, and Tom’s shaking voice to convince Clemmons that this was the real deal. She put a hand on Gibb’s shoulder and told him to take a statement, called an ambulance to follow them to the Mather house, and hustled them both out the door to lock up behind them. 

In the car, she set the siren ablaze and had Gibb read Tom’s statement back to him. “Between 7 and 7:15pm, Tom Mulpepper arrived at the Mather house with his son Bobby to deliver Sylvia Mather’s repaired antique vehicle, as is their arrangement. Bobby Mulpepper drove Tom’s Ford truck and parked it at the end of the long driveway and Tom drove the antique jalopy, his word not mine, to the front of the house. He put it in park and knocked on the front door. He was about to leave the key under the mat, as is their arrangement, when he noticed the front door slightly ajar. He was about to leave, not wishing to deal with Sylvia Mathers more than he absolutely had to, his words not mine, when he heard a woman scream from inside the house. He yelled for Bobby and entered the home and followed the ruckus, his word, to the parlor in the back of the house, off the kitchen, where he found -“

“Ruckus?” Clemmons narrowed her eyes in the mirror and focused on Tom’s pale face. He was in shock, she thought as she drove the car through town. “What kind of ruckus, Tom? What did you hear?”

“I-I heard more screaming. And a sound, like a plate breaking. Or a pile of plates maybe. There was a crash. A-and-“

“And?” she pressed. “Close your eyes. Focus. Tell me what you heard.”

“S-scraping. A crash and scraping, like a chair across the floor.”

“Good. You get that?” she asked Gibb. He nodded. “Go on.”

Gibb continued to read. “Tom followed the ruckus, his word, to the parlor in the back of the house, off the kitchen, where he found Sylvia Mather, her maid Aggie and a bunch of other people, including Mike the bartender, standing around a body on the floor. The body belonged to a man in his sixties, maybe seventies. He had gray hair and there was blood all around his head. He was definitely dead.” Tom’s head had dropped low behind them. Gibb glanced at Clemmons. “His son Bobby stayed at the house, to make sure nobody left or touched anything.”

“I watch TV,” Tom mumbled from the backseat. “CSI.”

“Thank god for TV.” Clemmons swung the car up the driveway to the Mather house and inwardly, readied herself for the long night ahead.

__________________________________________________________________________________________

It’s January and I’m feeling a little ambitious; ready to take all of my stories (big and small, fiction and non-fiction) in new directions. Ready for change and big things, energized by possibility. I hope you’re feeling the same way and have a happy, healthy and prosperous new year…

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December Calendar- Cookies!

Posted by on Dec 3, 2014 in *Calendars*, *Smitty & The Girl Series* | 2 Comments



Calendar_templateDec



Episode 39: Smitty & The Breakfast Club

Read the First 38 Episodes | Previously on Smitty & The Girl: Mike Newell’s small family has just been rocked, big time, by the sudden arrival of his son’s mother the day before. Little does he and Lily, his own mother, know that young Freddy had an adventure of his own with his long-lost mother, mere hours ago…

It was Lily’s idea to go out for breakfast. She had expected both of her boys to sleep in but they both stumbled down the stairs at a shockingly reasonable time, their hair equally mussed and their eyes bleary. For a second, it felt like Christmas morning, the only time they appeared in the kitchen so early on a day when they weren’t expected to be at school or work. 

It never failed to make her heart ache, those first few years when her son and grandson would appear on Christmas morning. It reminded her how young her own son was, still, when Freddy was just a toddler. 

One look at them both and she put away the boxes of cereal and declared that they were going to Smitty’s for pancakes. Mike grunted in reply. Freddy silently went to put on a hoodie and his sneakers. As he passed her, Lily grabbed him by the arm. “You all right?” she asked and she put a hand on his cheek, surprised when his red eyes filled with unshed tears. “Freddy-“

“I’m fine. Just hungry.” He didn’t wrench himself away, he stopped himself, but he did take her hand and pull it from his face. “Let’s just go. Forget it.” 

“No, I won’t.” Lily glanced behind her and saw that Mike was busy putting on his shoes, well beyond earshot. She looked at her grandson. “Talk to me, Freddy.”

He sucked in a breath and pulled the hood up over his head. “I heard you and Dad last night,” he said, his voice low and Lily felt her heart give way. When his eyes filled again, she nodded. She needed to recovery from these blows, she thought, faster and faster. There was never enough time to process these little breaks to her heart. And then he shook his head, “Can we just go?”

“Yes.” Lily steeled herself and ushered him out the front door, gestured for Mike to follow them. “I’ll drive,” she said to her son and he shrugged. We’ll go, she thought, but not where you think.

She wondered how long it would take her boys to notice that she steered the car away from Main Street and instead headed straight for the mansion at the top of the hill. 

_________________________________________________________________________________________________

As you may or may not know, Nicole and I go back and forth on how recipes get picked for this site. One week, I present three options and Nicole makes the final call and the next week, we switch. It’s very uniform and fair and this way, each of us gets to make what we want every week (more or less).

In October, November and December, all of our recipes fall into holiday related themes. October- baked goods for Halloween. November- side dishes and desserts for Thanksgiving. And December is all about cookies. We’ve been doing this for three years now so we basically know what to expect. However, this year I jumped the gun a few WEEKS when Nicole casually asked, the second week of November, what we should make that week and I launched into a big declarative statement about buckeye cookies. Forgetting completely that it was still November. 

All of this to say that I am really frigging excited, apparently, to start baking cookies.

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November Desktop and iPhone Calendar – High Time for Pie

Posted by on Nov 4, 2014 in *Calendars*, *Smitty & The Girl Series* | 7 Comments



November Desktop and iPhone Calendar



 

Episode 38: Smitty & The Morning After

Read the First 37 Episodes | Previously on Smitty & The Girl: Bickering twins Petula (con) and Rose (cop) Mathers spent the rest of a long and terrible night in Rose’s old sedan.

Petula opened her eyes and didn’t think. She pushed herself off the front seat and kicked open the door. She was halfway out of the old car when something jerked her solidly back and she saw that she was handcuffed to her sister. 

Rose was awake and sitting in the front seat. She didn’t even flinch or yelp, as Petula did, when the sharp metal jabbed into her wrist. She tensed her arm and held it still until Petula clamored back into the car. “Are you kidding me?” Petula rattled her wrist, just to annoy her sister, who took another bite of her protein bar and chewed it like a placid cow. “Are you freaking kidding me?”

Rose finished her breakfast calmly. “You’re a flight risk. This was the only way we could both get any sleep.” She slid her aviators on and smiled at her sister. “Did you sleep well, Pet?”

“Where the hell are we?” Petula scowled and reached underneath herself to straighten her clothes with her one free hand. When she looked out the window, all she saw was acres and acres of corn. “Are we still in town?”

“On the border.” Rose leaned back and attempted to stretch the kinks in her neck. “I’m deciding my next move. Would you like to hear my options?”

“Do any of them involve letting me go right now, of my own free will?”

“No.”

“Then I don’t care.”

“Option 1,” Rose said with a stretch. “Is that I have a buddy in Chicago run a check on you and your aliases. Aliasi? Whatever. To see if any outstanding warrants come up. Civic duty, you understand.”

“Bite me.”

Rose ignored her and tapped the wheel. “Option 2. I tie you to that tree over there, with the handcuffs, and drop off a note to Mike Newell letting him, and his son, know exactly where you can be found. And then you can have that awkward reunion I was so hoping would happen last night.” She cleared her throat over Petula’s parade of swears and oaths. “Language, Pet. Option 3. I ask you a few questions, you tell me the truth, I verify that you’re telling me the truth, I take something of value from you to verify you’re telling me the truth, I reiterate how I am going to hunt you down and exercise both Options 1 and 2 if you tell me you’re telling the truth but you are not in fact telling me the truth. And then I let you go.”

Petula stared at her sister and wondered what she could possibly want answers to. There was only one possibility and Petula’s mouth went dry at the thought. “I pick Option 2.”

__________________________________________________________

It’s November, one of my most favorite months of the year! It contains America’s greatest holiday and possibly the only holiday that we can be wholly and completely proud of (just don’t mention Black Friday to me and that whole component) thank you very much. It is still fall and lovely, the trees are still dropping their leaves and maybe there’s a little snow? Maybe? When snow is still charming and not to be dreaded or fear like it is in, say, February or March? And gratitude. So much gratitude. November is the month for it and what a wonderful habit it is, to practice and nurture and recognize and celebrate. Here’s a list of things that I’m grateful for right this second:

– The fuzzy sweater I’m wearing.

– Big, thick socks.

– A fully organized, stocked and ready-to-roll kitchen

This soup, which I ate for dinner with all the fixins, thanks Deb

This book, which is next to me and I might just carry it around with me for the rest of my natural-born life

– My brother, who I will get to see later for an hour or two, because he lives here now, which is just… so nice to be able to say

– This calendar because it reminds me that Pie is Coming which is from my upcoming novel (not really) Game of Pies

What are you grateful for?

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October Desktop and iPhone Calendar – Carrot Cupcakes

Posted by on Oct 2, 2014 in *Calendars*, *Smitty & The Girl Series* | No Comments



Free October Desktop and iPhone Calendar from Some Kitchen Stories



 

Episode 37: Smitty & The Granddad

Read the First 36 Episodes | Previously on Smitty & The Girl:  Frank Mathers Jr. has given his sister and her housemaid quite a shock, arriving in the middle of the night, searching for his long-estranged, cop daughter and not her con artist twin as they expected…

Sylvia awoke in her chambers with a start, the way a person wakes when they’ve just been trapped in a nightmare for hours. She placed one hand on the silk eye wrap she wore over her eyes and instead of removing it to take in the day’s light, she pressed her long, manicured nails against it. She wished she could go back to sleep, sleep through it all.

She didn’t know why her family had decided to arrive back in Cliffwood, and all at the same time, but she knew she’d had a year’s worth of drama in just one epically long day and she was tired. Lord, was she tired. Sylvia Mathers spent the majority of her silvery days swanning around town, perfecting an air of energy and an eccentric lilt, throwing parties, throwing scenes, treating her mansion like an old Hollywood retreat. Now, in her bed, surrounded by silk and cotton, she felt her age settle into her bones. 

With a sigh, she removed the wrap from her eyes and they fell on Aggie, who slept slumped on the chaise beside Sylvia’s bed. This was not the first time Aggie had fallen asleep there, in Sylvia’s room. Most often, it was when Sylvia fell ill or drank too much after a party. Truth to be told, Sylvia always thought it was a bit passive aggressive, overkill, that her “loyal maid” would so dramatically position  herself at Sylvia’s side, literally, when she was her most vulnerable. 

But that morning was different. Sylvia rolled over to her side, felt the sharpness of her hip bones jut into the mattress, and watched Aggie sleep. It wasn’t just Sylvia’s family that had exploded into town, it was Aggie’s family too, the most jagged pieces of her heart had all come flying back at once. Frank was asleep somewhere in the house, probably blissfully unaware of the wreckage that he dragged with him. For a few minutes, Sylvia felt the full weight of the night’s events settle on her and her heart was heavy with it. When she arose from the bed, she would take charge of it all, she knew. She would summon the steel that had settled into her aging bones and protect herself, her and Aggie both. But for a few minutes, there was just silence, Aggie’s heavy breathing and the day’s breaking light.

 

__________________________________________________________

Happy Fall, party people! Welcome to my most favorite month. Crunchy apples, crisp air, sweater coziness. The only thing I regret about this time of year is how badly I want to burrow under blankets when the alarm goes off in the morning. (Could I schedule some time every morning on my work calendar that just says “Burrowing” and get away with it?)

It feels like it’s been forever. We promise to have new recipes to share this month as Nicole settles into her new life in Philly (the move is over! They’re home!) and unpacks her many, many, many kitchen supplies (I assume that’s being unpacked first, right Nicole?). In the meantime, you can see what we’re cooking and baking every week here and here.

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September Desktop and iPhone Calendar – Waning Days of Cake

Posted by on Sep 5, 2014 in *Calendars*, *Smitty & The Girl Series* | 3 Comments



September Calendar



 

Episode 36: Smitty & The Child

Read the First 35 Episodes | Previously on Smitty & The Girl:  15 year old Freddy went for a late night bike ride and instead got the shock of his life- meeting his long-lost aunt and mother on the side of the road… Now they want to have a middle-of-the-night reunion with his dad.

The first time Freddy realized he didn’t have a mother, he was four-years-old. The kindergarten teacher asked them to draw a picture of their family and she ticked off names like reading off a grocery list- “Mom, Dad, brothers, sisters, pets, grandparents, cousins, aunts, uncles, anyone you call family!” And then she wandered back to her desk, not knowing that she had just set a small bomb off in little Freddy’s head.

When his father, who worked nights then as a cashier in the supermarket, came to pick him up from school, Freddy asked him where his mother was. He had asked around and had determined quickly that he was supposed to have one. His father stopped walking and Freddy stopped too, on the sidewalk. He watched his young, handsome father stare down the road, not sure how to reply. “Some mothers leave,” his father said finally and he tightened his hold on Freddy’s hand and they headed home.

He asked his grandmother once. He was eleven. The question had lingered in the back of his mind, always there, and finally old enough to snoop around drawers and closets, Freddy had done his share of investigating. When the search proved fruitless, even the earlier pictures of him featured his father and grandmother, he waited until his father had set off on his shift at the bar and cornered, literally, his grandmother in the kitchen where she stood over the sink, washing potatoes for supper. “Who is my mother?” And when she froze, by then he surmised that it was a family trait, Freddy filled the silence with the questions that had surfaced and re-surfaced over the years. “Is she dead? Did she leave me? What was her name? Does she ask about me?”

His grandmother turned off the water, dried off her hands and walked to the phone. Freddy started to feel himself get angry, irritation rising up in him like a well, but she spoke to his father. She said, “Mike, we’re coming over.” And she grabbed her keys and took Freddy and they went to the bar, because his father had just started the job and wouldn’t be able to come home until his shift was over, she told Freddy. 

They went into the storeroom of the bar and Freddy sat on a box of pickles and his father said, “Her name is Petula Mathers. We met in high school. She’s alive. She wasn’t ready to be a mother and that’s why she left town. I have not heard from her since, not once, but I’m sure she loves you, Freddy, because you are completely and thoroughly impossible not to love.”

________________________________________________________

Apologies for the delay! Nicole is moving! She and her family will be leaving Chicago soon and heading back to the East Coast. Get ready, Philly-area…

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August Desktop and iPhone Calendar – In Summer

Posted by on Aug 2, 2014 in *Calendars*, *Smitty & The Girl Series* | No Comments



Calendar_templateAUG



Episode 35: Smitty & The Reunion

Read the First 34 Episodes | Previously on Smitty & The Girl: 15 year old Freddy went for a late night bike ride and instead got the shock of his life- meeting his long-lost aunt and mother on the side of the road…

Freddy stared at the woman, confused. “Home?”

“To your father.” Rose smiled brightly. She leaned on the open door of the car, clearly delighted with her own idea.

Freddy wasn’t sure he liked the look in her eyes. He walked back over to his bike and gripped the handles, his mind spinning. “No thanks.” He saw Rose’s smile fall, her frown, and he tried to ignore it. His heart was beating like a jackhammer. His mother. His mother was there. 

Rose said nothing, as if she could hear his thoughts, see his internal struggle. He had turned away to leave but he’d stopped. He heard her sigh. “Petula. Open your eyes, dammit.” And when there was no response, Rose reached into the car and grabbed her sister by the arms and pulled her out, like an angry cat out of a bath. “Time to face the music.”

Freddy watched as the woman unfolded herself from the backseat of the car, emitting low hisses and howls as she smacked her sister for the rough treatment. “You really are,” the red-haired woman said with a huff and she railed on her twin, “the worst,” she huffed and slapped, “possible human being on the planet.” She let out an exaggerated breath and pointed to her forehead. “You could’ve given me brain damage! Do not say it, Rose,” she warned as soon as the sentence was out of her mouth. Both women, mirror images of each other, glared. 

He stared at them both, transfixed. “Um.” And they both turned to him, with those angry eyes. But Freddy only had eyes for his mother. He looked at her and tried to understand what it was he was supposed to do or say. What do you say to a woman you’ve just met on a dark street in the middle of the night, if that woman is your mother? Freddy waited. And when the woman, his mother, went to open her mouth, something in Freddy snapped like a rubber band. His heart went into overdrive. In one fluid motion, he hopped over his bike, turned it and raced down the street, and away from them.

______________________________________________________________

Well hello! I’m not really here. It looks like I’m here but I’m not. I’m away on vacation right now. Except I haven’t left yet. But by the time you read this, I’ll be gone. This is weird. I’m having a great time! I hope!

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July Desktop and iPhone Calendar- S’More Summer Days

Posted by on Jul 6, 2014 in *Calendars*, *Smitty & The Girl Series* | No Comments



calendar_1280x960_July



Episode 34: Smitty & The Truth

Read the First 33 Episodes | Previously on Smitty & The Girl: Flashback- A teenage Petula is in the hospital, having just given birth to a son that she doesn’t wish to see. On the second night of her hospital stay, she’s visited by an old man named Smitty…

It occurred to Petula that the old man, whom she’d never met before, looked vaguely familiar. Had she seen him at the big house? She felt a trace of panic. Did he know her Aunt Sylvia? “Do I know you from somewhere?”

The old man smiled and kicked up his legs to cross them at the ankles. He smelled old, she thought, but it wasn’t that bad of a smell. His pants were neat and ironed, his shirt clean. “Have you been to the old diner in town? The only diner.”

Petula frowned. She only spent summers in Cliffwood and those summers were mostly spent poolside, in the shady escape of their property. “Yes. Once or twice.” Her eyes widened slightly as she remembered the back of the plastic menu there, the photo of a man and woman encircled over a paragraph about the old place. The old man smiled. “There it is. If Vera hadn’t insisted we put our pictures on the menu, I could’ve lived a long, anonymous life in this town.”

Petula thought of the diner and its busy counter, where people met to gossip over pie. She recalled the hustle of the waitresses and the crowded tables where people often jumped up and joined other tables. Cliffwood was small and the people there seemed to relish it in the diner, where they were known by all. “If you were going for anonymity, I think you chose the wrong profession.”

“Agreed.” He shrugged. “It was Vera’s dream. She was the face behind the counter. I worked in the back, on the books. It suited us. Now,” he said abruptly. “Let’s talk about your predicament here, young lady.”

She felt a wave of despair. Crap. A do-gooder. Any second now, this pleasant conversation would take a turn and she’d end up with Holy Water splashed over her. She shifted in her bed uncomfortably and wondered if she could stave him off. “I’m fine,” she said with a wave of her hand. “I’m fine, the baby’s fine. I’m going to take him home and raise him,” she lied with a soft smile. “And we’ll be fine.” She was going to stop there but the words, they just kept coming. “I have a lot of help. Mom and Dad, they were upset at first but we’re going to do this together. And my sister said she’d help whenever she can and we’ll have a room at the house, they have a room right for the baby, and I’ll finish school and go to college and get a job and everything’s going to be great.” She blinked, uncertain why the lie had taken on a life of its own. It worried her. She’d always been a truly excellent liar. Her father said it was her finest quality, in fact.

It took her a minute to realize that Smitty said nothing in response but just watched her, his face clear of judgment or reproach. He nodded thoughtfully. “The nurses told me that the father’s taking the baby.” When her eyes widened, he did shake his head with some reproach. “Terrible gossips, those old crones.”

“I’m sure they just think he’s so great,” Petula croaked, her hands trembling under the pillow. She gripped the case to steady herself. “What a hero, raising that baby alone, the most popular boy at Cliffhood High, such a promising boy with his whole future ahead of him, ruined by that rich brat who lives on top of the hill.” She felt a full tremor take hold of her and her eyes locked on Smitty’s. Why did she care what this old man thought of her, she wondered. Why did the truth, after all these months, suddenly seem  like it was going to claw its way out of her? “They’d be shocked to know the truth, wouldn’t they,” she whispered. “They’d be shocked to know that they met at a party and that she didn’t know anyone and he gave her so many drinks that she felt dizzy and he decided it would be a good idea to take her outside, so she could get some air. And that she didn’t exactly say no,” she said out loud for the first time, her eyes locked on the old man’s, “but it wasn’t yes either. Wouldn’t it just break their hearts, the truth of it all.”  

Smitty leaned forward and put his hand over hers, under the pillow. It was thin like paper but warm. There it stayed, for a long time, until there was nothing left to do but for Petula to close her eyes and find her way to sleep. 

___________________________________________________________________________________

Everything feels more dramatic in summer. Must be the heat…

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Free June Desktop and iPhone Calendar- Sorbet Your Life

Posted by on Jun 2, 2014 in *Calendars*, *Smitty & The Girl Series* | 3 Comments



Free June Desktop and iPhone Calendar



 

Smitty & The Mother of All Flashbacks Continued…

Read the First 32 Episodes | Previously on Smitty & The Girl: We know Petula and Rose Mathers are the daughters of Cliffwood scion Frank Mathers Jr and housemaid Aggie. We know that Petula had a son with Mike Newell at age 15 and then promptly left town. We know Petula and Rose are now back in Cliffwood about to reek havoc on Mike’s life, fifteen years later…

Lily wasn’t the only visitor to the room that day. 

Petula’s request to be left alone was largely honored. Her sister did not make an appearance, nor did her Aunt Sylvia. Her aunt’s house maid stopped by once, briefly, but she did not enter the room. Petula had just awoken from a nap and opened her eyes to see the woman standing in the doorway, staring at her. Petula closed her eyes and willed her to leave. 

It worked. When Pet opened her eyes, the woman was gone. A small bouquet of flowers rested on the table beside her, though. Poppies. Her favorite. 

Mike did not dare enter. It was better that way, she thought, as she flitted in and out of sleep. They had already agreed, after all, that the baby would stay with him, belong to him. There was nothing left to say. 

So she was surprised when the night fell and she opened her eyes once more and a stooped, old man sat in the chair beside her bed. Petula thought about screaming or being startled but she felt neither. The man was familiar in that vague way that old men could be- like they all morphed into the same, rough person after the age of eighty. This one held a hat in his hands and had thick, bushy eyebrows. He peered at her. “You’re awake.”

“I am.” Petula’s voice was hoarse. She cleared it. “Are you a doctor?” she asked, knowing he wasn’t a doctor. 

I am not.” The old man sat back in the chair. “I’m a volunteer. The church sends a shuttle to the hospital every day so we can visit the infirm.” 

“Am I infirm?”

“You look infirm to me.” The old man shrugged. “No one ever visits the women in post-partum,” he said. “Just the babies. I thought I’d give it a shot. It’s nicer on this floor, anyway.” He glanced around the room and then his eyes fell down to her own. “Your baby isn’t here.”

She looked at him for a long time. “No, he’s not.” And after a moment, he nodded.

Would you like me to leave you alone?” he asked. 

Petula felt her hand slide up under the pillow and grip the case, out of sight. “No. You can stay.” 

“All right then. Petula, is it?”

“Yes.” She hated the sound of her own name, she thought. It was like a knife going through her. “What’s your name?”

“Smitty,” the old man replied. “The name’s Smitty.”

_________________________________________________________________________________________

Tonight, I got home from a long walk, got all the things to make this, chopped, and stirred and stirred and chopped. The minutes ticked by, it got later and later. I stood over the grill pan and turned shrimp after shrimp after shrimp (did I mention I doubled the recipe? So many shrimp) and finally tumbled the shrimp into the giant salad bowl, all done, finally, tossed everything together only to realize… I wasn’t supposed to toss everything together. I was supposed to toss the salad together and then place the shrimp elegantly on top. On top. Not together. I stood and stared at the bowl. I ate it anyway. This is why I don’t cook on weeknights, you guys. I’m just saying…

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