Monday, April 18, 2022

Happy National Tea Day!

Katherine: Tea is the delightful go-to beverage for populations around the world. In our mystery book Kat Out of the Bag readers discover that Pam is our biggest fan of drinking tea. Partly this is from her growing up in England with its traditions. Pam has definite preferences in her tea leaves, but there is such a breadth of variety available, it's wonderful there is a National Tea Day to celebrate the brews.

Moonjava:  No need to limit the celebration to a day. Drink up! There's so much to know about teas. They've been around forever. The history of tea dates back to ancient China, almost 5,000 years ago. According to legend, in 2732 B.C. Emperor Shen Nung discovered tea when leaves from a wild tree blew into his pot of boiling water. He was immediately interested in the pleasant scent of the resulting brew, and drank some. 

Katherine: That's one of the things I like about tea, it's so easy to make and enjoy.

Moonjava: Easy, oh yeah. Although knowing a few thoughts will enhance your pleasure steeping a great cup.

Katherine: Like what, MJ?

Moonjava:  For starters, the water you use. Tea is as good as the water you use. If your tap water tastes great, the chances are it will make great tea. or you may want to filter the water for better taste. Be sure not to use water that has been sitting in the kettle for days. Always use fresh water.

Katherine:  That makes sense. How much of the tea leaves should be measured for the kettle, I mean if you're not relying on random leaves from a wild tree blowing into your pot.

Moonjava:  I recommend one rounded teaspoon per 8 oz of water, but keep in mind the kind of tea leaves you're steeping. For very fine particle tea a level teaspoon will be enough, but for bulky leafy tea you should use a big pinch. It's all to taste so no worries, after making a cup or two you'll get the hang of it!

Katherine:  There are so many different types of tea leaves in the world. I keep my inventory well organized for whatever I'm in the mood for. Sometimes I'm not sure and I try tea leaves that are a mystery to me until that first sip.

Moonjava: Discovering and trying different teas is an adventure. For example, there are Pam's favorite Black Teas. Black tea is withered, fully oxidized and dried and most often medium or highly caffeinated.

Katherine:  Pam's favorites are Earl Grey and English Breakfast, but she does stray from black tea on occasion. She also enjoys herbal teas.

Moonjava:  Brews made from herbs, flowers, and grains are likely as old as her other favorites. Tea leaves were consumed as a medicine long before they were a beverage, and many popular herbal teas were originally made for those purposes. Common types are chamomile, mint, and rose hip, but Pam may also want to check out elderflower, Greek mountain herb, and chrysanthemum teas.

Katherine:  What else do you recommend? I like to try new things.

Moonjava:  Green tea production endeavors to avoid the oxidation of the tea leaves, in order to retain its natural green color and fresh flavor.  It can taste like spring peas, fresh cut grass, gently toasted hazelnut, and even brackish seaweed floating in broth. Quality greens are intensely aromatic and sweet on the tongue. 

Katherine: I'm not sure that appeals to me, maybe with honey and lemon added.

Moonjava:  That sounds like a tasty experiment. Now you're seeing the fun of teas. You may also like to try an oolong. In Taiwan, high mountain oolongs may look almost as green as green tea, but tiny nudges of oxidation have transformed crisp and grassy flavors into creamy, buttery ones with a strong floral lilt. Or a white tea. Where oolongs are all about intensive processing, white teas emphasize letting nature take its course. Plucked tea leaves are air dried with minimal processing, either in the sun or with powerful air vents. As they dry, the leaves undergo a slight oxidation, developing a rich, creamy body and subtle floral flavors. 

Katherine:  You're making me thirsty.

Moonjava:  Yellow tea is a niche but traditional style in China, with processing similar to green tea but with some extra steps to smother and sweat the leaves, yielding a less sharp, more rounded tea that's neither a green tea nor a white. And how about in the Darjeeling hills, the first flush, or harvest of the year, is processed into a tea that's sold as "black tea" but is really nothing of the sort-it's heavily withered but barely rolled or oxidized, so the leaves retain spots of green and it brews up a pale amber, with fresh piney flavors not quite like anything else. 

Katherine:  I'm always in the mood for hot tea. The weather is never too hot for me to enjoy that, but I know you like iced tea throughout the year as well.

Moonjava:  Many of these different teas taste delicious either hot or iced. Some taste better iced. There are a number of teas made from roasted grains that are especially popular in Korea and Japan. Barley, tartary buckwheat, Job's tears and corn silk all make soothing, naturally rich brews. Even better, these teas are fantastically refreshing when cold brewed or ice, making them the perfect caffeine free drink to make by the pitcher and gulp all through the sweatiest days of summer. And don't forget sun tea.

Katherine:  Yes, our porches often show off your big, covered, water-filled pitchers of tea leaves steeping for hours in the sun. It's actually fascinating to watch the color come in, and then deepen over time. If only Seattle had more sunny days, you could do this even more.

Moonjava:  The weather is a consideration. It is, after all called sun tea. With all teas, sun or kettle, the steep time is important, and at the right temperature. High quality teas can be delicate. If oversteeped, they will taste bitter, especially green teas. If you prefer stronger tea, use more leaves rather than steeping it longer.

Katherine:  I think tea is also fairly economical.

Moonjava:  Tea is a generous drink. With only a third or so the caffeine of coffee, it offers a gentler path to a morning jolt, allowing you to drink more. Most tea leaves can be steeped several times before depleting their flavor too. And what benefit, the different types of tea are also rich in a substance called l-theanine, an amino acid that studies have linked with feelings of calm and well being.

I could use a little calm to think over the clues to our new mystery our author is currently finishing.

Moonjava:  Cheers to our fellow tea drinkers, fellow mystery readers, Happy National Tea Day every day!

Monday, May 24, 2021

A National Moment

Katherine Watson: Do you have a minute? It only takes one minute. Can you take a minute for someone else? It may be someone you don't know, but it's someone who gave up everything in service to this nation.

Jason Holmes:  The wonderful Memorial Day holiday weekend is coming, and there's a very important moment on that Monday, at 3:00 pm, whenever 3:00 pm falls in your local time. 

Moonjava:  To ensure the sacrifices of our nation's fallen heroes are never forgotten, in December, 2000 The National Moment of Remembrance Act was signed into law.

Jason:  It encourages all Americans to stop for just a minute at 3:00 pm local time for a minute of silence to remember and honor those who have died in service to the nation.

Katherine:  Carmella LaSpada started Moment of Remembrance. She said, "It's a way we can all help put the memorial back in Memorial Day."

Moonjava:  Yes, just before Memorial Day in 1996, Carmella LaSpada was in Lafayette Park and asked a group of schoolchildren on a whim, what Memorial Day meant. They cheered, "That's the day when the swimming pool opens!" Carmella thought, if only people would pause for a moment -- just one minute -- to reflect on the heroes who died and the price they paid. That would be a small, good, healing thing.

Katherine:  LaSpada began lobbying and it resulted in Congress passing a resolution and the President issued a proclamation urging Americans to set aside that one minute at 3 p.m. for the National Moment of Remembrance.

Jason:  Carmella had founded No Greater Love (NGL), in 1971, is a non-profit, patriotic, humanitarian organization that is dedicated to bring hope, peace and love to the world. No Greater Love started with a promise by Carmella LaSpada to a dying medic in Vietnam – a promise to do something good to honor all the fallen and their families and ensure that they will never be forgotten. Check the link to learn all this organization provides.

Katherine: Jason is a Veteran of the Afghanistan War. After his duty in the Army he attended the Police Academy training before coming to Bayside as a K-9 officer with his dog Hobbs. Jason worked with a trained dog in the Army too. That dog's name was Robby and he was trained to sniff out roadside bombs and save lives.

Jason:  Those dogs are amazing service animals. They're over 98% accurate in their detection skills. Hobbs is a German Shepherd police dog. Robby was a Labrador Army dog.

Katherine:  The men and women and service animals who have given their lives in service to the nation will be in my thoughts 3:00 pm Monday. And for more information about the women who have died, including those who disguised themselves as men in order to serve in the Civil War, click on They Gave Their LIves

Moonjava:  And remember to wear a red poppy too. Learn more on The USAA site about the red poppies, and also there you can see the sobering numbers of valuable lives we've lost in the wars fought.

Thursday, May 6, 2021

Flowering Mom With Love

 Welcome To Our Blooming Blog

Today we're gathered at Al's CafĂ© in Bayside - Katherine, Moonjava, and Pam, three generations of Mothers. 

Katherine: In this beautiful spring time we celebrate Mother's Day so often with gifts of flowers. Few people know that our Bayside K-9 officer Jason Holmes enjoys gardening very much and has studied the history of flower meanings. Of course, his dog partner Hobbs enjoys relaxing in their garden too when they're off duty.

Pam: In our mystery Kat Out of the Bag, Jason surprises you with meaningful bouquets at unexpected times.

Katherine: I didn't know flowers had different, hidden meanings. It adds an additional layer of sentiment to floral gifts.

Jason: It's fun research.

Katherine: We want to celebrate mom with flowers. Would you give us some advice on the meaning behind these gifts?

Jason: I'm happy to help. The symbolic language of flowers has been recognized for centuries through Europe and Asia. Nearly every sentiment you can imagine can be expressed with flowers. Examples of plants' meanings during the Victorian era include bluebells - kindness, peonies - bashfulness, rosemary - remembrance, and tulips - passion. The meanings and traditions associated with flowers have changed over time, and different cultures assign varying ideas but the fascination with giving a “perfumed message” remains.

Katherine: I'd like to gift to Moonjava. She's my mom, MJ and still living the 1960's Flower Child style life. So much of her life is without rules. She wants the best for everyone and shares her daily meditations with anyone who will listen. Sometimes her meditations seem to almost predict the future.

MJ: On this topic I believe the potential for everyone to bloom where they're planted. I've always loved flowers, all kinds. I think my favorites are daisies.

Jason: Daisies are a sweet symbol of hope. That seems to fit your outlook. I think I'd recommend a bouquet assortment to add to daisies, including white jasmine - sweet love and amiability because although you and Katherine are very different personalities you share a love and friendship. Also include magnolias - love of nature. And finish off the bouquet with marjoram - joy and happiness.

Katherine: I like that, for you MJ.

MJ: Super groovy! That's a double handful of peace and love. Thank You!

Katherine: Now for Gran, there's really only one thought for flowers. It's traditional.

MJ: I'll see your bouquet and double it. I know exactly what you're thinking - red roses.

Pam: Oh I just love you girls. Red roses have always been my favorite flowers. With my English garden background I enjoy so many flowering plants, but red roses are the best. My father always used to give me red roses on my birthday and that made them special.

Jason: The color of the rose plays a huge role. Red roses symbolize love, but roses come in a variety of colors, each with its own meaning.

  • White rose: purity, innocence, reverence, a new beginning, a fresh start.
  • Red rose: love, I love you
  • Deep, dark crimson rose: mourning
  • Pink rose: grace, happiness, gentleness
  • Yellow rose: jealousy, infidelity
  • Orange rose: desire and enthusiasm
  • Lavender rose: love at first sight
  • Coral rose: friendship, modesty, sympathy
Pam: I wish my mother was still with us. I think of her on Mother's Day too

Jason: That makes me think of a pretty bouquet of zinnias - thoughts of absent friends and loved ones.

Pam: Now we need a bouquet for Katherine.

Jason: Let me suggest . . . . white chrysanthemums - her search for the truth behind mystery, orange tulips - her enthusiasm and joy in the investigation, yellow tulips - the sunshine in her smile, and rhododendrons - danger

Katherine: And for all our wonderful readers, yellow azaleas for friendship, happiness and positive energy.

And African Violets - for Mothers and Motherhood

Sunday, April 25, 2021

When Duty Called

Katherine: In our exciting cozy mystery Kat Out of the Bag, my Women's History museum tells tales of women throughout the decades. You'd be surprised how helpful the purses of an era can be in telling the stories of the different generations, their lives and their adventures. Isn't that right, Gran? Our Purse-onality museum's number of exhibits is growing in decades. In the upcoming sequel of our In Purse-Suit Mysteries our exciting new exhibit will be the 1960's.

Pam: Oh yes Katherine, in our book I enjoy helping you with your amateur sleuthing of the murder mystery. Scattered through the pages are also clues about what the purses women carry today can indicate, and the bags men carry. And we investigate handbags from previous generations. In Kat Out of the Bag the newest museum exhibit underway is for the World War II generation. I talk about the adventures of my mother in England during that time and how she answered when duty called.

Katherine: That inspiration came from the author's mother, who worked as a young, volunteer ambulance driver during The War. She also radioed in, and reported on incoming airplanes, watching for them with her binoculars. She got so she could distinguish airplane types just from the engine sound. You describe the effort beautifully in our book.

Pam: I discovered another author with an interest in the tales of WWII era women. M W Arnold's Broken Wing series of books about women of the ATA is so exciting, and is another way to bring the dangers and delights of this period to life within the imaginations of the readers. I've invited Mick to join us.

Katherine: Hello Mick, what first spurred you to write this book A Wing and A Prayer  the first in the Broken Wing series?

Mick: It came about purely by chance. I was off work ill and was finding it hard to write my then work in progress and an author friend suggested I look for something new and unrelated. A few days later a program came on the television called, ‘Spitfire Women’ and after watching that, it sparked the idea for what became the ‘Broken Wings’ series.

Katherine: Can you tell us about some of the research you did about women of the ATA? Any facts that especially intrigued you?

Mick: Where to start? I have so much admiration for what these ladies did. Well, for a start, they often flew in weather which grounded Allied air operations. If an aircraft needed to be delivered, it was often up to the pilot assigned to the delivery to make the decision. Depending upon the distances, they often delivered two, three or more planes a day. Much to the annoyance of some officers who loved being saluted the ATA were never taught to salute and even though there a Daily Routine Order in April 1943 announced they were required to salute senior officers, it made no difference as they never saluted. I'll give you one more wonderful example of their spirit. One woman once accused a lady pilot of basically doing this for a hobby. This made her mad and so she challenged the woman to a fight and when she refused, she offered to take on the woman’s husband, who chickened out!

Pam: Tell us a little about the dangers of the job these women did.

Mick: It always amazes people when I talk about these pilots and I tell them that the planes they flew didn’t have radios; nor were their guns provided with ammunition. So, if they got into trouble, not only could they not call for help, but they couldn’t try to shoot their way out either. It wasn’t common for planes flown by the ATA to be shot down, but it also wasn’t unheard of. This, of course, gives me lots of scope for getting my characters into trouble – which actually occurs in book 3 of the series. At the beginning, they also were not trained to fly on instruments and because of this, if they flew into cloud or fog, they could and did fly into the ground or hills.

Pam: Tell us about the planes they flew.

Mick: At first, the idea was the ATA would only deliver training aircraft, which meant mostly Tiger Moth type biplanes. However, it quickly became obvious this would be a waste of resources and they quickly moved on to Spitfires and Hurricanes; just in time for the Battle of Britain. Indeed, their contribution to the battle should not be underestimated, the ability to deliver replacement aircraft was vital. Gradually, the pilots flew everything which the RAF fought and flew, including four-engine bombers like the Lancaster and, on occasion, the B17 Flying Fortress if required. The only type they never flew were flying boats as taking off and landing on water was considered too specialized even for this incredible group of aircrew. The even created procedures for flying planes which, initially, the RAF’s pilots considered too difficult to fly. More on this will be revealed in my books.

Katherine: How did you decide to include the American Doris, and can you talk a little about her personality?

Mick: I love Doris! During my research about the ATA, I found out about their American equivalent, the Women’s Airforce Service Pilots, or, WASPs. They were treated dreadfully in comparison to their UK compatriots. Poorly treated, badly thought of and in general, not taken seriously by their male equivalents, in virtually complete opposition to their UK colleagues. So, I decided I wanted to have an American girl as one of my main characters in small tribute. She gets to do 99% more than she would have been allowed to do, I she’d have joined the WASPs. She goes into her motivation on joining the ATA near the start of ‘A Wing and a Prayer’.

Pam: Can you tell us about your character Penny's motivation to join?

Mick: Penny was a quite well know pilot pre-war, think Amelia Earhart and Amy Johnson, but has a poor relationship with her father after the death of her mother. He disapproves of her flying, especially because she kept getting into the newspapers, in his opinion, bringing the family name into disrepute. Under the threat of being married off, she wants to prove she is her own woman and determines to do what she can for the war effort.

Katherine: Despite all the dangers, your characters are filled with humor and camaraderie, is that a reflection of the real ATA pilots?

Mick: Oh yes. They had to suffer some terrible nicknames, amongst them, the Lesbian Pool and the Always Terrified Airwomen. Despite the constant dangers they faced each day, they were a close bunch who had each other’s backs. Many of the stories I've come across would not be believed if I wrote about them. I've used a few so far, and more will appear. Like most pilots, they were happiest in the air and always up for any job. Their excellent morale was also helped by their being the first female workers to be awarded the exact same pay for doing the same job as their male colleagues.

Katherine: Along with a mystery, there is also romance in your book A Wing And A Prayer, was this also true in history?

Mick: Yes, there were instances of RAF pilots marrying ATA pilots, in fact - don’t tell anyone but this is a spoiler – Penny has a romance with an RAF pilot. When they met was one of the most fun scenes I wrote for this book. However, not all romances are meant to be and that’s certainly true with this series of books. I'm not going to say anymore though, as that would give away more plots from book 2 which I hope will the readers will love.

Pam: Not all romance was with pilots  during The War. Here you see our author's parents then, a romantic British Army example. 

Pam: What hints can you give us about what's in store in your next book in this series?

Mick: In book 2, ‘Wild Blue Yonder, we become quite heavily involved with the USAAF (United States Army Air Force) in Europe. Where I live in the UK there is an ex-USAAF base called, RAF Polebrook where much of this book is set and, a certain major film star is based for a while. Without giving away his name (because, frankly my dear…) he is at the center of this books mystery. Compared to ‘A Wing and a Prayer’, the mystery is not as central to the story however, it is vital to the story which is more based around the developing relationships of the group of characters.

Pam: Thank you so much for joining us Mick. I love learning more about your books.

Katherine: Yes, thank you so much Mick. What an incredible generation.

Mick: I should like very much to thank you for the wonderful questions, I had such a lot of fun answering them, and I hope to be back with you all soon. From everyone in the United Kingdom, keep safe and look after yourselves.

Monday, March 8, 2021

Women Mystery Authors #ChooseToChallenge

 Women Mystery Authors


A celebration of women, their work and their talents, a theme celebrated everyday, but in particular it's appropriate we're talking about this topic this month. March 8th is international women's day. The theme for International Women's Day 2021 is 'Choose To Challenge'. A challenged world is an alert world. And from challenge comes change. Women Mystery Authors write characters who don't walk away from a challenge. Their readers share this trait.

There are way too many intriguing and talented, skilled female mystery authors to spotlight them all. The four generations of female characters from Kat Out of the Bag each chose one favorite author to recommend - 

Amber - College student and gift shop manager at Katherine Watson's Women's History Purse Museum. In Kat Out of the Bag I play a critical role in the investigation as I pursue a clue that I find in a donated vintage purse.

My recommendation is to enter the contemporary L.A. Noir scene with award winning author Steph Cha. A quote from this author - "You meet a new person, you go with him and suddenly you get a whole new city . . . you go down new streets, you see houses you never saw before, pass places you didn't even know were there. Everything changes."

Find out more on her website

Hear from the author herself on YouTube's Kendall & Cooper Talk Mysteries with Steph Cha

Katherine - Celebrated international purse designer, and owner of the Purse-onality Women's History Purse Museum. I've recently discovered that I also have a talent for solving mysteries. In Kat Out of the Bag I was challenged to find the mayor's killer. And word is only getting out now about the mystery I solved before that, a prequel as they say, of a chilling cold case Purse-stachio Makes A Splash.

My recommendation is award winning writer Kellye Garrett, especially her Hollywood Homicide. She knows her Hollywood setting well and her characters are fun reading. This is cozy, gone glam, gone great!

Find out more on her website

Hear from the author herself on YouTube's Kendall & Cooper Talk Mysteries with Kellye Garrett

Moonjava - Joyfully experiencing everyday with the visions and meditations of positive vibes from mother earth. I'm inspired by the free-spirited flower children of the ancient 1960's. I am Katherine's groovy momma, and for now I'm  her museum historian, you never know where the winds may blow me. 

I'm enthralled by award winning author Val McDermid, one of the biggest names in crime writing. She has four primary book series, and two tv series. How about these tantalizing quotes from this author, "A society gets the criminals it deserves." and "I think that crime is a good vehicle for looking at society in general because the nature of the crime novel means that you draw on a wide group of social possibilities."

Find out more on her website

Hear from the author herself on YouTube's Kendall & Cooper Talk Mysteries with Val McDermid

Pam - Well, I'm the old lady of the group. Dear Katherine is my grand daughter. I was very involved with her growing years in Bayside, Washington. When she started solving mysteries I was very happy to give my advice and to add my suspicions.

I'm a big thriller reader, and one of my very favorites is the incredible author KJ Howe. Her research into the international kidnapping and ransom intrigue, blends with her incredibly talented writing and results in a truly thrilling mix of fact with fiction. The suspense in the plot gives me sweaty palms as I turn the pages. Scary to think how very closely fiction resembles real life.

Find out more on her website

Hear from the author herself on YouTube's Kendall & Cooper Talk Mysteries with KJ Howe

The Ladies of the Round Table (Peggy, Winifred, Margaret, Judy, Liz) - Hello there! We're Pam's group of best friends in Bayside and we love dear Katherine. I'm Peggy, speaking for the group today, oh stop mumbling girls. The highlight of each week is our early bird special dinner that we all get together for. Al Perez holds our table for us at his restaurant on Main St. We sit at the big round table in the middle of the room. We see all that's going on, and talk about it too. We love it when Katherine consults us on her mysteries. That actually started us all reading mysteries again and so now we're also a reading group. We'd like to chime in with our favorite.

We all enjoy the cozy mysteries by New York Times best selling author Laura Childs. She's such an inspiring author and so prolific. She has several wonderful, puzzling mystery series for readers to try to solve. The ladies and I get worked up sometimes over our theories and suspects. It's so much fun.

Here's a quote from one of her characters, "Always remember a friend is someone who understands your past, believes in your future, and accepts you just the way you are . . . and a friend stands by you no matter what it costs her."

Find out more on her website

Hear from the author herself on YouTube's Kendall & Cooper Talk Mysteries with Laura Childs

Happy Reading! Happy International Women's Day! #ChooseToChallenge!

Monday, February 8, 2021

In A Moonlit Mood

Amber:  Here's an Austrian crystal-encrusted "Heart N Soul" evening bag by Judith Leiber, 2009. She's a favorite designer of Katherine's. When I'm working in the gift shop, I get fascinated with designers like her and the intricacies of her amazing works.

Michael:  Makes me think of that chainmail one we found that day. It looked like chainmail from the knights of the round table. That one we found with the old love note inside. That really started you and me investigating. It's all written up in that Kat Out of the Bag mystery.

Amber:   That was a romantic find in a vintage Whiting and Davis donation. Actually from the 1920's. Oh Michael, what we discovered! The clues were exciting, and then it got scary.

Michael:  Talk about dangerous.

Amber:  I'm not finding a hidden note in this "Heart N Soul" The shimmering of the crystals is just beautiful though. They pick up the lights in a room, in sunshine, and even in moonlight. That's romantic. Remember when we were out together on that fall night and you gave me that gardenia? I still remember what you said . . . .

Michael:  I'm in a moonlit mood, baby.

Amber:  Yeah, that's just what you said. Our author captured it in Kat Out of the Bag - 

"I'm in a moonlit mood, baby." His strong arms surrounded Amber, and she reached up for his broad shoulders. As their lips met Amber couldn't imagine anywhere else she'd want to be.

"I have something for you, babe."

"Really?" Amber's curiosity surfaced in her breathless voice.

Michael grinned. "Close those eyes for a second." He took a small, plastic box out of his jacket pocket and showed it to her under the sparkling light decorations hanging around the courtyard. It was a very small wrist corsage with a gardenia. As he opened the lid the sweetest, pure floral fragrance was freed. He took it out of the box and reaching for her hand he slid it onto her wrist.

"Oh Michael."

"Amber, I've never met anyone like you. I'm falling for you."

She reached for his shoulder and brushed his cheek with the gardenia, releasing another burst of the deep perfume. They gently kissed.

"Oh Michael, you're sunny kisses on the bleakest of days, you're a sweet dream on a bitter night a familiar hug in the midst of strangers. You're my kindred spirit."


Amber:  Too bad all days aren't like that one.

Michael:  Having a day like that helped us through our adventure. And now we're in another one.

Amber:  Yes the Kat sequel is happening and it's intriguing. Just wait until everyone reads about it.

Michael:  In the meantime, will this heart purse be in your gift shop at Katherine's museum? Who did you say designed it?

Amber:  This beauty is a Judith Leiber. The designer is an icon. Her bags are not just fashion, they're pure artistry. She made the sparkling beauties in all kinds of shapes, animals, cupcakes, flowers, fruits, almost anything you can imagine. Our Purrada cat would love Judith Leiber's cat purse.

The Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art has 80 pieces of hers in their collection.

Courtesy of the Museum of Arts and Design

Michael:  Sounds like they're expensive.

Amber:  It's said that her jeweled style was the result of a mistake. Her Chatelaine bag from way back in 1967 didn't turn out as she'd hoped. She tried to save it by adding crystal rhinestones to the bottom. It really worked - that bag was a big success.

Michael:  Good things can come from mistakes.

Amber:  She survived the Holocaust and WWII in Germany. At the start of the war she worked at a handbag company named Pessl. For awhile she and her family lived under the protection of the Swiss Consulate. In the final months of the war the Nazis rounded up her and her family. Later she said that she designed handbags in her mind to create an escape for herself from the brutal conditions. After the war she met an American GI in Budapest. Gerson Leiber, he was an abstract impressionist painter and sculptor. They were married for over 70 years.

Michael:  That's a lot of moonlit nights.

Amber:  She had an amazing life. She passed away in 2018 at the age of 97. She designed her last bag in 2004. Get this - an intricate blue-green peacock minaudiere.

Michael:  What's a minaudiere? I thought you said she made purses?

Amber:  That means a style of purse that's small, decorative and has no handles or strap. 

Michael:  I never knew there was more than just calling it a purse or a bag.

Amber:  You know how you can recognize the make and model of a car from a distance, and tell me all about the engine and so on? Well, that's how Katherine is about purses. She can recognize a purse from far away including its style and more. Sometimes I think she recognizes a purse coming towards her before she recognizes the person carrying it.

Amber:  Judith Leiber sold her company as co-owner to Dee Ocleppo Hilfiger, wife of Tommy Hilfiger. Online you can see the line continue at

Michael:  Is that someone I'm supposed to know?

Amber:  Tommy Hilfiger is another famous purse designer. Judith Leiber opened her own purse museum too, like Katherine has now. Her museum is surrounded by gardens and has a sculpture space designed by her husband.

The Leiber Collection

Amber:  Looks like it's going to be a wild Valentine's Day.

Michael:  Wild is good.

Judith Leiber crystal evening bag

Monday, February 1, 2021

Civil Rights Activist Rosa Parks


Rosa Parks statue Montgomery, Alabama
“People always say that I didn’t give up my seat because I was tired, but that isn’t true. I was not tired physically, or no more tired than I usually was at the end of a working day. I was not old, although some people have an image of me as being old then. I was forty-two. No, the only tired I was, was tired of giving in.”

Rosa Parks

(1913 - 2005)

Birthday Anniversary - February 4th

On December 1, 1955, Rosa Parks boarded a bus in Montgomery, Alabama. Instead of going to the back of the bus, which was designated for African Americans, she sat near the front. When the bus started to fill up with white passengers, the bus driver asked Parks to move. She refused. Her resistance set in motion one of the largest social movements in history, the Montgomery Bus Boycott. 

She was booked in the city jail and held in a dank, musty cell. Her boss and friend E. D. Nixon, NAACP president bailed her out. 

Hear it from the lady herself:

(You can listen to Rosa Parks recount the events here, four months later, in April 1956.)

According to the Washington Post, she had suffered much trouble from this same bus driver. Even a dozen years earlier - November 1943 - the same bus driver tried to make Parks exit the front of his bus and reenter through the crowded rear entrance. Parks refused, so he grabbed her sleeve to push her off the bus.

She intentionally dropped her purse on a seat and sat down in the white section to retrieve it.

Rosa Parks was a lifelong activist who challenged white supremacy for decades before she became the famous catalyst for the Montgomery bus boycott. She was a woman who, from her youth, didn’t hesitate to indict the system of oppression around her. 

She joined the Montgomery chapter of the NAACP in 1943, becoming branch secretary. She spent the next decade pushing for voter registration, seeking justice for black victims of white brutality and sexual violence, supporting wrongfully accused black men, and pressing for desegregation of schools and public spaces. She was committed to both the power of organized nonviolent direct action and the moral right of self defense.

By the time Parks boarded the bus in 1955, she was an established organizer and leader in the Civil Rights Movement in Alabama. Parks not only showed active resistance by refusing to move that day, she also helped organize and plan the Montgomery Bus Boycott. 

Her courageous act and the subsequent Montgomery Bus Boycott led to the integration of public transportation in Montgomery. Her actions were not without consequence. She was jailed for refusing to give up her seat and lost her job for participating in the boycott.

Nearly nine months before Rosa Parks’ famous arrest, 15-year-old Claudette Colvin was arrested on a Montgomery bus for refusing to yield her seat to a white passenger. She refused to move, began yelling about her constitutional right and was physically removed from the bus by police.

Colvin joined four other plaintiffs in the court case Browder v. Gayle, challenging the constitutionality of bus segregation ordinances of Montgomery.

When the Supreme Court upheld the ruling on Dec. 20, 1956, ordering Alabama to end racialized bus segregation, so ended the remarkable 381-day bus boycott by the black citizens of Montgomery, which had begun the Monday after Parks’ arrest. 

Rosa Parks (purse in hand) statue at US Capitol

After the boycott, Parks and her husband moved to Hampton, Virginia and later permanently settled in Detroit, Michigan. Parks work proved to be invaluable in Detroit’s Civil Rights Movement. She was an active member of several organizations which worked to end inequality in the city.  On October 24th, 2005, at the age of 92, she died of natural causes leaving behind a legacy of resistance against racial discrimination and injustice.

Learn more about the  Montgomery Bus Boycott

Sunday, January 17, 2021

Still Have A Dream

Martin Luther King Jr. Day is known as a Day On, not a Day Off.

Inviting you to browse the important information at The King Center site

A world that reflects the Beloved Community where all people are valued, respected and treated with dignity.

Each year, The King Center in Atlanta leads the nationwide observance of the national holiday commemorating the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The theme and call to action, for the 2021 Observance is “The Urgency of Creating the Beloved Community!”

Learn more about Martin Luther King Jr.

Learn more about Coretta Scott King, one of the most influential women leaders in the world.

And learn about The National Women's Hall of Fame - Women who have transformed America in enduring ways, including Coretta Scott King

Showcasing great women and inspiring all.

Monday, December 28, 2020

Bayside Breeze

In Bayside we're looking forward to the mysteries of a new year. We're on the brink of new adventures, toes curled over the edge and ready to dive in. 

Our New Year's Eve celebration includes a favorite drink for a midnight toast - The Bayside Breeze. 

This tasty treat is so easy to make at home. It's a mix of vodka, pineapple juice, cranberry juice, and orange bitters. Shake it together. Yum!

Be sure to drink responsibly, and be prepared for our stories to come, by catch up on your reading:

Purse-Stachio Makes A Splash - prequel novella

Kat Out of the Bag - exciting first book of The In Purse-Suit Mysteries

And to follow . . . . a sequel is coming

Wishing you a very happy, novel new year of 2021!

Cheers to that!

Bayside Breeze . . . .