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Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Kiki Lowenstein and the Penny Pincher (Part 3)

By Joanna Campbell Slan

Editor’s Note: In Parts 1 and 2, Kiki Lowenstein, owner of Time in a Bottle, has been teaching a two-session class called “The Double-Dip.” This week, her customers brought in one of their favorite dessert recipes, a photo of the dessert, and the recipe to use in an 8- by 8-inch cookbook album. There's a bit of friction in the group because Iona Lippman and Lisa Ferguson both claim to make an outstanding red velvet cake—and now Iona's recipe has gone missing! To make matters worse, Kiki's customers have also challenged her come up with thrifty ways to scrapbook. Kiki has her hands full with this group. You can read Part 1 here and Part 2 here

Iona threw up her hands and kept screaming. "Where's my red velvet cake recipe? Who took it? Someone stole it from me!"

"Calm down," I said, making placating motions with my hands. "It has to be around here somewhere, Iona. You know how things get covered up by papers. Or they get swept off the table inadvertently. Let's not go accusing anyone of mischief."

With that bold pronouncement of my faith in human beings, and scrapbookers in particular, I put myself in a ticklish spot. The burden of finding her recipe card now rested squarely on my shoulders.
For the next 30 minutes, we tore the class area apart. All of the classmates participated in the treasure hunt. We went through piles of paper, one sheet at time. We looked in the copier. We opened the paper bags I had taped to each cropper's work space. I even got down on my hands and knees and crawled around on the floor. When the recipe card didn't show up, I expanded our search area. When I bought Time in a Bottle, we didn't have enough space for our classes. The display shelves took up all the available room. To make enough space for our sessions, I'd put those same display shelves on wheels so they could be rolled to one side. Now, I rolled the shelves this way and that, scouring the store for the missing 3- by 5-inch card.

"You don't understand," said Iona, with a hitch in her voice. "That recipe has been in my family for generations. We've passed it down from mother to daughter. I can't go home without it. I just can't!"
She started howling with misery, while her friend Avery Ailes patted her consolingly on the shoulder.
Clancy sidled over to me and whispered in my ear, "You can’t win. You realize that, don't you? If you search each of our customers for the card, you're admitting someone probably took it. If you don't, you're letting someone walk away with Iona's recipe. Either way, people are going to be mad at you. They'll talk about this, and they'll take it out on the store."

My friend was right. And I had no idea what to do next.

"How about if I share a few thrifty ideas for albums?" I said, in an overly perky voice. "Let's give ourselves time to think. Maybe the recipe will show up. In fact, I'll even offer a sweetener. The person who finds the recipe will get a $50 gift certificate to the store."

Yes, it was a lot of money, but I was desperate to save my store's reputation. The potential bribe worked. The women all took their seats and listened intently.

"We all know how expensive albums can be," I said. "And normally I'd be the last person discouraging you from buying a pricey album to showcase your prized family photos."
At that, my customers chuckled.

The sound relaxed me just a little, and I continued, "Sometimes you aren't scrapbooking to create an heirloom. In the immortal words of that wise woman Cyndi Lauper, 'Girls just want to have fun,' right? Having fun doesn't necessarily mean you need an expensive binder for your layouts.”

"There are a lot of other ways you can collect and display your photos.” I described and displayed many examples. “A child's board book—use sandpaper to scuff up the shiny pages. That'll make gluing new paper over them much easier. Catalogs and magazines—glue together 4 or 5 thin pages, cover these with nice paper, and decorate them. Paper bags—stack four lunch bags on top of each other, alternating the open side. Fold them in half. Open them up to reveal the fold line. Stitch them together at the fold line. Fabric—Cut pieces of pre-washed cotton fabric in a 12- by 12-inch size or larger. Stack them and sew them together down one of the edges. Cover that edge with bias binding. Glue your photos directly onto the material. Toilet paper roll cones—flatten them, stack them, and punch holes in one of the short ends. Thread them together with ribbon or a metal ring clip. Each cone can act as a page or a pocket. Ring binders—buy a package of 8- by 11-inch page protectors and treat the ring binders like you would any other album. Drink coasters—punch a hole in them and attach them to each other pearl necklace-style with twine, or ribbon or metal rings. Either cover the coasters with paper or paint them with gesso."

I paused to see how my ideas were going over. My customers were frantically taking notes. The samples I'd put together were being examined with great enthusiasm. Maybe the entire evening wasn't going to be a bust after all.

But how was I going to find that missing recipe? Right then, the front door swung open.

"Don't look now, but the cavalry has finally arrived," said Clancy, and in walked my fiancé, Detective Chad Detweiler.

Editor’s note: Be sure to check out the final installment of this short story in the winter issue of Chicagoland Scrapbooker and on this blog. Can Detective Detweiler figure out who swiped Iona’s family recipe? And can he do it without making all the scrapbookers mad at Kiki? What makes that recipe so fabulous anyway? We have a fabulous red velvet cake recipe to share with you!

Joanna Campbell Slan is the author of the Kiki Lowenstein Mystery Series, featuring a scrapbooking mom. To see a list of all of Joanna’s books and short stories, go to Follow her on Facebook for more great crafting ideas at


Pamela Hargraves said...

Loved it can't wait for the next installment.

Joanna Slan said...

I've already written it. I think you'll love the resolution!

Barbara T. said...

It is always delightful to read about Kiki and her friends. Thank you for sharing her with us.

Suzy said...

Drat. Well that is that. not feeling patient about waiting but will be trying to work out what happens next.

Thank you for giving us these little insights, it keeps us going until the next big read.

Loving the tips.

linda said...

Thank you Joanna!

Joanna Slan said...

Barbara T, Kiki is my imaginary playmate. Thank YOU for enjoying her!

Joanna Slan said...

Suzy, glad you like the tips. I work hard to provide value as well as entertainment!

Joanna Slan said...

Linda, you are so welcome.

Anonymous said...


susan beamon said...

Going to say I never got the scrapbooking bug. Guess it couldn't find a space, what with my books, dolls, counted cross stitch, needlepoint, plastic canvas, and dollhouse miniatures.

suzanans said...

Shoot! It was so good I "sped read" it and now I'm sad - write faster Mrs. Joanna!!! I really liked your ideas for alternate albums too. Some of them I knew about but some were totally new to me & I admit I haven't done ANY of them so I guess it's time to scrapbook!

Joanna Slan said...

Linda, please send your postal address to Sally at

I'm thinking I need to send you a gift so you can show it off to Scrooge and explain that loving people do kind things for each other. (Take that, pal!)

Joanna Slan said...

Susan B., that's one reason I love miniatures. It encompasses so many crafts at once. Sounds like you're having fun and being creative. That's what counts!

Joanna Slan said...

Suzanans, I have three new books coming out. One in November, one in December, and one in January. Make sure you sign up for my newsletter so you'll know about all of them. And I'll try to keep producing short stories like this. How's that for a deal?

Cecilia said...

I've really enjoyed your Kiki and Cara books. Thank you for great clean mysteries. :-)

Anonymous said...

Another fantastic installment in the Kiki adventures. Yes all that Kiki does leads to some sort of adventure which I love. Looking forward to the next installment.

Jan said...

I can't find installment 4 on the Chicagoland Scrapbooker. How do I get to it?


Joanna Slan said...

Jan, Part 4 hasn't been published yet.

Joanna Slan said...

Cecilia, you are welcome!

Joanna Slan said...

Marcia, coming soon!