featuring guest authors; crafting tips and projects; recipes from food editor and sleuthing sidekick Cloris McWerther; and decorating, travel, fashion, health, beauty, and finance tips from the rest of the American Woman editors.

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Sunday, January 31, 2021


Judith "Judy" Copek describes herself as a writer, ex-geek, cook, gardener, traveler, and cat fancier. Today she joins us with a twofer—a craft project and a recipe. Learn more about Judy and her books at her website.


These will work for wood-burning fireplaces, fire pits, and wood stoves. 



Old muffin tins

Baking cups (not metal) 

Wood shavings (Available at pet supply stores. You can also use sawdust.) 

Paraffin wax (Gulf Wax is good) 

Small cones and pods, dried wildflowers, dried rosebuds (small) milkweed pods, dried statice flowers. (It’s easy to collect these in the fall with a walk in the woods, or down an alley.)


Lay out all supplies and have dried items organized by size and color. 


Place paper baking cups in muffin tins. Fill muffin tins with wood shavings. 

Melt wax on stove. I put wax in an old coffee can, and put the can in a pot with water. Turn heat on medium. When wax is melted, carefully pour into shavings-filled baking cups. Fill to the brim. 

Working before wax can harden, arrange dried cones and pods, weeds, flowers, and milkweed pods in hot wax. Crowd dried items together. A milkweed pod (small or medium) gives some height, and colorful (red, orange, purple) dried items lend visual interest. 


I made twenty in all. It’s fun to do with a friend, older grandchild, or someone who likes crafts, but for 


*Safety Warnings: Do not let small children participate. They could be burned by the hot paraffin. 


Store away from small children in a metal container. 


These fire starters burn like crazy, and they ignite almost instantly. As for anything combustible, keep children away. Once ignited, the wax burns for 20-30 minutes. 

Laura’s Lemon Squares

My heroine from my amateur sleuth mystery Murder in the North Woods took these lemon squares to a party. They quickly disappeared. 


(This is really my mother’s recipe Easy and delicious. For best results use butter and under no circumstances use "Real Lemon" or anything other than fresh lemon juice and fresh rind.) 


Ingredients for Step 1:

1/2 cup butter

1/4 cup sugar

1 cup flour

1/8 tsp. salt


Ingredients for Step 2:

2 eggs, beaten

1 cup sugar

2 T. flour

2 T. fresh lemon juice

Grated rind of 1 lemon


Additional ingredient:

Powdered shugar


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.


Cream together butter, sugar, flour and salt from first ingredients list. Press mixture into bottom of an 8” x 8” square pan lined with parchment paper. 


Bake for 20 minutes at 350 degrees F.


Combine ingredients from second list. Pour over hot crust. Return to oven and bake 20-25 minutes longer. Do NOT overbake. 


Remove from oven and sprinkle with powdered sugar. Cool thoroughly before cutting into squares. 

Murder in the North Woods

She’s into high tech. He’s into homicide. The Northwoods rock and roll when a savvy cyber-sleuth teams up with a hunky homicide cop to route corporate miscreants and to solve a murder. 


When she arrives in Wisconsin’s North Woods, Laura Goode discovers her only contact is now a corpse. The information officer at Great Northern Shoe Company was a local lothario whose killer could be anyone from an enraged husband to a bitter factory worker whose job is heading overseas.


Working undercover, Laura digs into the Y2K Millennium project, but office politics thwart her mission to determine who is subverting it. Adding more complications to her life, boyfriend Jack, a homicide cop visits unexpectedly, and makes friends with the local cops. Her soon-to-be ex-husband also makes an appearance. Laura welcomes Jack’s help, but he’s also a distraction as she segues from boardroom to bar room, trolls for bass, hunts hackers, and tries to rescue her kidnapped cat, all while getting closer to the identity of the murderer. The exciting but off-beat conclusion involves high water rafting and a naked motorcycle gang. 


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Unknown said...

Great craft idea, and I also plan on making the Lemon Bar recipe. The book sounds juicy, will absolutely purchase it! Thanks for the informative blog :)

JudyinBoston said...

Hi "Unknown!
Quick tip about the recipe. If you line the pan with baking paper, the crust won't stick around the edges. Yes, book if juicy and a fun read. Thanks for you comment.

Kaye George said...

If I had a fireplace in this house, I would try those! That looks fun. I remember Laura taking her lemon squares to the party. Thanks for the secret recipe!

JudyinBoston said...

Fire starters also good for campfires or as a gift for friends with fireplaces (not gas) or fire pits. They are fun to make once you have collected the small pods, cones, and dried flowers and weeds. I forgot to warn not to collect any milkweed pods with eggs, most likely Monarch butterfly eggs which are getting scarcer every year.
Enjoy the lemon squares!