Nancy's Notes From Florida

Buzz is the Word

March 27, 2020

For Easter Hair Hunt, I learned quite a bit about beekeeping. One of the characters in this story is a beekeeper at a historic estate. Hairstylist Marla Vail attends an Easter egg hunt there when she discovers a body in a bunny suit out on the manicured lawn.

Bees are not my favorite creature but they play an important role in agriculture. Many of the world’s most common food crops require pollination by honeybees. On their foraging flights, the female worker bees collect nectar and pollen to bring back to the hive. The nectar is mixed with enzymes from their gut and then dehydrated into honey. Pollen, containing proteins and amino acids, becomes the “bee bread” used to feed growing larvae and the queen.

Honeybee

A virgin queen will mate with up to eighty male drones. She uses this sperm for the rest of her five-to-six year lifespan, laying eggs along the way. A hive can raise a new queen by feeding a substance named royal jelly to a larvae.

When the hive gets large enough, usually in the spring, the older queen leaves with half the worker bee population. The others cluster in a swarm outside while their scouts look for a new location. When the scout bees find a suitable home, they’ll return to the cluster and perform a waggle dance to direct the swarm to the new hive. The first worker bees on the premises gather at the entrance and release a pheromone to direct the rest of the bees into the new hive. This pheromone resembles the scent of lemongrass oil.

While the bees wait in a cluster for the scouts to return, beekeepers can use a swarm box to catch them. It’s baited with honey combs and lemongrass oil. The bees are docile at this time, because they have no brood to protect and they have gorged on honey to sustain them for the flight. The beekeeper will transfer the swarm into a nucleus box where they can establish themselves before being moved to a hive.

The beekeeper uses a smoker to tame the bees while he’s working with them. Smoke makes honeybees believe there may be a wildfire nearby. They’ll eat as much honey as they can in preparation for a potential move. This full stomach makes them less likely to sting due to the physical difficulty in tipping their abdomens up.

Smoke also masks the alarm pheromone given off by guard bees. This pheromone smells like banana candy, so if you smell bananas in your hive, it’s time for another puff of smoke. Similarly, beekeepers shouldn’t eat bananas before working with a hive, since it may be detected as an alarm pheromone. My suggestion is not to eat bananas before taking a stroll in the woods.

Bees tend to attack the face of mammals, hence the veiled hood as part of the beekeeper’s gear. Bees have carbon dioxide receptors on their antennae, which allow them to detect our exhalations. They may respond aggressively. This ability developed to protect them against bears. Also, if you’re afraid, they can sense it because you’ll breathe more rapidly.

Beekeeper tasks include making sure the bees have enough food, water and ventilation. They need to make sure weaker hives aren’t been preyed upon by stronger hives. Bees also need to be checked for diseases and pests. This job requires year-round attention to the bees in their care.

Bee populations are threatened by pesticides, drought, habitat destruction, nutritional deficits, air pollution, climate change, diseases and parasitic mites, plus robbers such as bears and bees from other colonies. Ecological farming is the key to protecting the bees. This practice restores soil nutrients, avoids soil loss from wind and water erosion, and avoids use of pesticides and fertilizers.

I am not a fan of bees of any kind, including wasps and bumblebees and hornets. True, the honeybees play an important role in our agriculture and honey production, but I’d rather steer clear of them. That includes hollow tree trunks and other potential hiding places in the woods.

Do you ever think about the role of bees in the honey you use at home? 

Research for EASTER HAIR HUNT #cozymystery involved learning about honeybees and beekeeping. Click To Tweet

Disclaimer: I am not an expert in the field of beekeeping. This information is based on my understanding of the material I read.

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Easter Hair Hunt, #16 in the Bad Hair Day Mysteries 

An Easter egg hunt at historic Tremayne Manor leads hairstylist Marla Vail to discover more than just dyed eggs. The dead body in the bunny costume is definitely not having a good hare day. Marla and her husband, homicide detective Dalton Vail, make an eggcellent team. He knows Marla finds solving mysteries and hare-raising adventures to be irresistible, but she may have found a basketful of trouble this time. Can Marla pull a rabbit out of her hat and crack the case of the body in the bunny suit? Recipes Included! 

BUY NOW

Amazon Kindle – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B083TZ78G1
Amazon Print – https://www.amazon.com/Easter-Hair-Hunt-Bad-Mysteries/dp/0999793276/
BN Nook – https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/books/1136016947?ean=2940162711889
Apple – https://books.apple.com/us/book/easter-hair-hunt/id1494917053?ls=1
Kobo https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/easter-hair-hunt
Books2Read – https://books2read.com/EasterHairHunt
IndieBound – https://www.indiebound.org/book/9780999793275
Goodreads – https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/50494022-easter-hair-hunt
BookBubhttps://bit.ly/2u7ggIu
Website – https://nancyjcohen.com/easter-hair-hunt/

 



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Slow Cooker Sirloin Steak

March 26, 2020

Try this quick and easy beef sirloin steak recipe in your slow cooker when you want a satisfying meal without much effort. Add your favorite side dish and a salad as accompaniments.

Ingredients

1-1/2 lbs. beef top sirloin steak
8 oz. Trinity mix (chopped green pepper, celery, onion)
¼ cup Worcestershire sauce
¾ cup reduced sodium beef broth
½ cup dry red wine
¼ tsp. dried thyme
4 whole peeled garlic cloves, quartered

Directions

In a large nonstick skillet, sear meat on both sides. Spray large slow cooker with cooking spray. Spread Trinity mix on the bottom. Place meat on top of mixture. Combine liquids in bowl, add thyme and garlic cloves, and pour over meat. Cover and set timer for 6 hours on low. When done, transfer meat to cutting board. Cover loosely with foil and let sit for 15 minutes before slicing. Serve with pan drippings for gravy. Serves 4.

 

Sirloin Steak



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Research Insights – Postal Service

March 23, 2020

Visiting the National Postal Museum in Washington D.C. is an enlightening experience. From the history of mail delivery via land, sea, and air to postal police to rare stamps, the exhibits need more than one day to absorb. If you’re into vehicles, there’s a mail train car, a stagecoach, vintage airplanes, and postal trucks among other awesome displays. After touring the voluminous halls, I came away with a new appreciation for mail carriers. You can read about my experience here.

Postage stamps figure into Easter Hair Hunt, #16 in the Bad Hair Day Mysteries. Lacey Tremayne, owner of a historic estate open to the public for tours and catered events, tells my hairstylist sleuth how her late husband had collected stamps. Lacey never paid much attention to his hobby, but she did like the historical aspects. Here she explains to Marla about the early history of our postal service. Why is this relevant? Marla found the chief gardener dead on the estate grounds after an Easter egg hunt. She’s interviewing potential suspects to find a motive.

postage stamps

“In the early days of mail delivery, a letter’s recipient had to pay a fee. Letters were folded and sealed with no envelopes since postage was based on weight. But people tried to cheat by putting a secret code on the outside of the letter, so the receiver could read the message and refuse delivery. The postal service turned to prepaid postage as a way to get paid for their efforts.” 

“Sealing wax was used on letters,” Marla remembered from period movies she’d seen. Noblemen would stamp the melted wax with their signet rings. 

“That’s correct. Rowland Hill, an English inventor, proposed that mail should go anywhere in Britain for the same rate, a penny per half ounce. The sender would pay for the postage, denoted by a small piece of colored paper on the outside of the letter. The first government-issued stamp, called the Penny Black, was issued in 1840. It was printed in black and had Queen Victoria on the picture.” 

“When was the first stamp made in the United States?” Marla asked, thinking to repeat this information to Dalton. As a history buff, he’d be interested in early postal service lore. 

“The U.S. Postal Service printed its first stamps in 1847,” Lacey said. “We had a five-cent stamp picturing Benjamin Franklin and a ten-cent stamp with George Washington. Most were produced in pre-gummed, non-perforated sheets that clerks had to cut.” 

“What kind of stamps did Connor collect?” 

Lacey spread her hands. “You’d have to ask his pal, Jonas Sommers. I liked learning about the history aspect but not the rest. Jonny is a walking encyclopedia on the topic.” 

“Did this guy have any interest in buying Connor’s collection after he passed? That would have made it easier for you to unload the stuff.” 

“No, I went through a stamp dealer. Jonny acted oddly at the time. He advised me to hold onto Connor’s stamps. But neither Daniel nor I had any interest in them. It’s like any collection. You pay a lot to acquire the items and then receive barely anything when you sell them.”

What did happen to Connor’s stamps? Were all of them sold, or were some hidden in the same private vault where he kept his sword collection? No one could seem to locate this secret stash.

If you want to read more on the history of postage stamp prices in the UK, Go Here for a quick summary.

Routine mail delivery is something we shouldn’t take for granted. It’s fascinating to learn about the postal service and the methods of delivery by air, sea and land. Mail carriers used to deliver the mail to us no matter the weather outside. Nowadays they’ll often stick the mail into cluster mailboxes at the entrance to a housing development. I much prefer our mail slot in the front door and an older community where the carrier goes from house to house.

How do you get your mail delivered? Do you have the same person each day on your route?

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Easter Hair Hunt, #16 in the Bad Hair Day Mysteries 

An Easter egg hunt at historic Tremayne Manor leads hairstylist Marla Vail to discover more than just dyed eggs. The dead body in the bunny costume is definitely not having a good hare day. Marla and her husband, homicide detective Dalton Vail, make an eggcellent team. He knows Marla finds solving mysteries and hare-raising adventures to be irresistible, but she may have found a basketful of trouble this time. Can Marla pull a rabbit out of her hat and crack the case of the body in the bunny suit? Recipes Included! 

BUY NOW

Amazon Kindle – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B083TZ78G1
Amazon Print – https://www.amazon.com/Easter-Hair-Hunt-Bad-Mysteries/dp/0999793276/
BN Nook – https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/books/1136016947?ean=2940162711889
Apple – https://books.apple.com/us/book/easter-hair-hunt/id1494917053?ls=1
Kobo https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/easter-hair-hunt
Books2Read – https://books2read.com/EasterHairHunt
IndieBound – https://www.indiebound.org/book/9780999793275
Goodreads – https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/50494022-easter-hair-hunt
BookBubhttps://bit.ly/2u7ggIu
Website – https://nancyjcohen.com/easter-hair-hunt/

Research Insights for EASTER HAIR HUNT #cozymystery on the history of the Postal Service. #amreading Click To Tweet

GIVEAWAY

 

LAST DAY! Enter Here to win an Easter Fun Box with a signed proof copy of Easter Hair Hunt, a scarf, cosmetic bag, gardening gloves, candy, hair ties, dish towel and socks.

 



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Book Blog Tour for Easter Hair Hunt

March 11, 2020

March 10 – Christa Reads and Writes – REVIEW

March 10 – Carla Loves to Read – REVIEW

March 11 – 18, Great Escapes Virtual Book Tour 

Great Escapes Virtual Book Tour

Join my virtual book tour to celebrate the release of Easter Hair Hunt, #16 in the Bad Hair Day Mysteries. Reviews, Spotlights, Interviews, Guest Posts & Giveaway. Please leave comments at each site to support my hosts.

March 11 – Socrates Book Reviews – REVIEW

March 11 – I’m All About Books – SPOTLIGHT

March 11 – This Is My Truth NowAUTHOR INTERVIEW

March 12 – The Power of Words – REVIEW

March 12 – Ascroft, eh?AUTHOR INTERVIEW

March 12 – Readeropolis – SPOTLIGHT

March 12, Booklover’s Bench – “Spring has a Buzz” GUEST POST & GIVEAWAY

March 12 – Baroness’ Book Trove – REVIEW

March 13 – Books a Plenty Book Reviews – REVIEW

March 13 – MJB Reviewers – SPOTLIGHT

March 13 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – REVIEW

March 14 – I Read What You Write – REVIEW, CHARACTER INTERVIEW

March 14 – Literary Gold – SPOTLIGHT

March 14 – FUONLYKNEW – SPOTLIGHT

March 15 – Cozy Up With KathyRECIPE POST

March 15 – Hearts & ScribblesGUEST POST – “Honey is Healthy”

March 15 – Lisa Ks Book Reviews – REVIEW

March 16 – Brooke Blogs – SPOTLIGHT

March 16 – The Pulp and Mystery Shelf – SPOTLIGHT

March 16 – eBook Addicts – SPOTLIGHT

March 17 – Ruff Drafts – SPOTLIGHT

March 17 – Jane ReadsGUEST POST – “Expensive Easter Eggs”

March 17 – Cinnamon, Sugar, and a Little Bit of Murder – REVIEW, RECIPE, & GIVEAWAY

March 18 – StoreyBook ReviewsGUEST POST – “Postage Stamps are History”

March 18 – Christy’s Cozy Corners – SPOTLIGHT

March 18 – Mystery Thrillers and Romantic Suspense Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

April 2, Dru’s Book Musings – “Get to Know You – Dalton Vail” CHARACTER INTERVIEW & GIVEAWAY

April 4 – Kings River Life – REVIEW, RECIPE & GIVEAWAY

Follow Nancy J. Cohen's Book Blog Tour to celebrate the release of EASTER HAIR HUNT #cozymystery - Guest posts, interviews, giveaways, & recipes! Click To Tweet

GIVEAWAYS

Enter Here March 10 – 23 to win an Easter Fun Box with a signed proof copy of Easter Hair Hunt, a scarf, cosmetic bag, gardening gloves, candy, hair ties, dish towel and socks.

Enter Here March 1 – 18 to win a free book from Booklover’s Bench

March 2020



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New Book Release – Easter Hair Hunt

March 10, 2020

Easter Hair Hunt, #16 in the Bad Hair Day Mysteries, is now available in print and ebook formats!

Easter Hair Hunt


LAUNCH PARTY
tonight on Facebook from 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm EDT. Join us for Fun & Prizes!

 

Ebook: ISBN 978-0-9997932-6-8, Orange Grove Press, $4.99
Print: ISBN 978-0-9997932-7-5, Orange Grove Press, $14.99
Genre: Cozy Mystery | Print Pages: 302

Hare today, dead tomorrow… Can a stylish sleuth pull a rabbit out of her hat to solve an Easter murder in this to-dye-for cozy mystery?

When hairstylist Marla Vail attends an Easter egg hunt at historic Tremayne Manor, she’s only there to fix hair for a client, Bonnie “Blinky” Morris. But when she’s asked to comb the grounds for leftover goodies, Marla discovers more than just a few dyed eggs. The dead body in the bunny costume is definitely not having a good hare day. And Blinky seems to have disappeared down a rabbit hole.

When trying to solve a murder, everyone needs a friend who’s all ears. For Marla, that’s her husband, homicide detective Dalton Vail. They make an eggcellent team. Dalton isn’t the kind to leap to conclusions, but with his wife seven months pregnant, and knowing Marla finds crime-solving to be irresistible, he worries about her running off on another hare-raising adventure.

Marla’s peeps are hoping for a happy ending, but she may have found a basketful of trouble this time. Can she crack the case before Blinky becomes the next victim?

Recipes Included!

“Marla is drawn into an investigation that involves a missing friend and a stolen Fabergé egg. As Marla and husband Dalton proceed, she finds her family life and pregnancy challenged in more ways than one, with everything overshadowed by Easter and a mystery steeped in South Florida history and culture.” Diane Donovan, Midwest Book Review

“Intrepid sleuth Marla Vail goes looking for her friend Blinky and instead finds a dead gardener. She also finds a Faberge egg on the estate grounds. In a case of classic misdirection in which no one is who they appear to be, Marla snips out the lies to reveal the truth and the killer. Another fun installment in Cohen’s entertaining Bad Hair Day series.” Muddy Rose Reviews

“Easter Hair Hunt is another delightful mystery for Marla as she embarks on new changes in her life while she works to solve a mystery that delivers an exciting and fun read.” 5 Stars! Liz Konkel, Readers’ Favorite

BUY LINKS

Amazon Kindle – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B083TZ78G1
Amazon Print – https://www.amazon.com/Easter-Hair-Hunt-Bad-Mysteries/dp/0999793276/
BN Nook – https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/books/1136016947?ean=2940162711889
Apple – https://books.apple.com/us/book/easter-hair-hunt/id1494917053?ls=1
Kobo – https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/easter-hair-hunt
Books2Read – https://books2read.com/EasterHairHunt
IndieBound – https://www.indiebound.org/book/9780999793275
Goodreads – https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/50494022-easter-hair-hunt
BookBub – https://bit.ly/2u7ggIu
Website – https://nancyjcohen.com/easter-hair-hunt/

Booksellers & Librarians This title is also available on Ingram.

Follow my Blog Tour March 11 – 18 for Reviews, Spotlights, Interviews, Guest Posts & Giveaway. Please leave comments to support my hosts.

Great Escapes Virtual Book Tour

New Book Release - EASTER HAIR HUNT, #16 in the Bad Hair Day Mysteries. An Easter egg hunt is not all it’s cracked up to be in this #mustread #cozymystery Click To Tweet

GIVEAWAYS

Enter Here March 10 – 23 to win an Easter Fun Box with a signed proof copy of Easter Hair Hunt, a scarf, cosmetic bag, gardening gloves, candy, hair ties, dish towel and socks.

Enter Here March 1 – 18 to win a free book from Booklover’s Bench

March 2020



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