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Hannah Swensen & Me

Updated on December 26, 2014

Wait, I think I know Hannah Swensen . . .

Joanne Fluke's Hannah Swensen murder mysteries (beginning with "Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder") are a perfect match for my family and me!

The Hannah Swensen Murder Mystery Series have become a fun-filled activity for our family - both the reading and the baking. The smart, funny protagonist is a cookie-bake-shop owner who lives in a small snowy town in Minnesota, solves one local murder in each book, and shares her favorite recipes with us after every few chapters.

And, I feel like I know Hannah Swensen. Why? Because she is soooo much like me - but you wouldn't know it from my resume. My resume says NJ divorce lawyer, busy Mom & Wife, formerly of NYC/Wall Street, well-educated and well-traveled over-achiever. So why do I relate so well to Hannah? We tend to think, do and act alike.

Behind the Scenes

My core personality is that of a puzzle-solver, math nerd, thoroughly creative, homeschooling mom, teacher-at-heart, family-focused, volunteer, business owner, the underdog’s advocate, bookworm, introvert, jeans and sweatshirt girl, and snow-lover.

So, while I appreciate gourmet foods, ancient Greek comedies, full-length beaded gowns, and the Impressionist Collection at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, I much prefer to live my daily life in blue jeans reading a good book, planning my next geometric quilt, playing board games with my family with home-baked cookies within arm’s reach, while educating clients about how to have a saner divorce, and making semi-annual excursions to the local sports bar to watch the Red Sox with a bottle of Sam Adams.

How I Think

Math & Art

Hannah Swensen and I both love to solve puzzles. Fortunately for me, I don't find dead bodies, so my puzzle solving pursuits are mainly in the

> professional (solving people's divorce problems)

> artistic (quilting)

> fun (various board games & packaged puzzles)

> gardening and cooking (in which I can both create AND solve a variety of endless puzzles)

categories.

I started doing logic problems when I was in about 4th grade, around the same time I started doing algebra (my babysitter taught me). Of course, I was the math nerd type who, at age 7, would get up early so I could hound my Dad while he ate his breakfast to give me more math problems to do.

And, I am also an artist. I started life with fine art lessons, with a Grandmother extremely talented in oil painting (and baking). It took me many years before I finally allowed myself to leave the fine arts for the creative arts that I enjoy so much more - quilting, handwork (knitting, crocheting), Christmas ornaments - anything where you create something out of conceivable nothing. I painted the centerpieces for the tables at our wedding reception - clear plastic tubes with a painted NYC skyline (we lived in Manhattan at the time) - with flowers in the middle.

My favorite board game? You guessed it - SCRABBLE - because it's all about logical thinking + creativity = word puzzles!

How I Live & Love

God & Family

That sums it up for me.

When I remember to serve God and follow His path for me, I keep myself focused on the right things and humble. My pride and convoluted thinking tend to get me in the most trouble. God keeps me out of that pit.

Family gives me joy. There is no greater source of joy for me than looking at my family being happy, well-fed, and around the table laughing and playing. It ranks right up there with our family leisurely enjoying an evening in the living room with everyone curled up with a good book.

Aha! Now you're starting to understand why I love the Hannah Swensen Mystery Series - It feeds my main source of joy - doing things like reading with my family and cooking for my family.

Want a Trifecta? Get me in the kitchen baking cookies (a new recipe of Hannah's of course!) with my daughter in the afternoon, enjoying a home-cooked meal for dinner, and reading a good book outloud together in the evening!

Want a Grand Slam? Bringing a great homemade dessert to a church gathering, having a family from church over for a big Sunday lunch, playing games in the afternoon, helping the kids make their own cookies (and letting them more-than-lick the bowl), and watching my joy-filled daughter animatedly read to us in the evening, and curling up in bed at night with either the sound of crickets chirping in the August air, or with the silent falling of big snowflakes on the eve of a two-foot snowstorm.

Cherry Cheesecake Murder had tons of great recipes in it for me!

What's Your Hannah Swensen Baking Status?

As for Me & Hannah Swensen, . . .

See results

Reading Together

I LOVE Reading To Zoe & Having Zoe Read to Me!

The Hannah Swensen books have been a lot of fun for our almost-10-year-old daughter - to both read and listen to!

Like most parents, I want my child to be as interested in reading as possible - and be able to read as well as possible. As a Homeschooling Mom, I am always on the look-out for opportunities to tie together the things that she learns in school with other parts of life - like leisure reading.

Hannah helps her do that! How?

1. There's a lot of dialogue in the Hannah Swensen books, so we get to practice a lot of inflection while reading.

2. The characters are fun - and funny! So, we stay very amused by their antics and personalities.

3. Joanne Fluke puts a good dose of foreshadowing in her stories - so my daughter and I can have a dialogue about "who done it" and "what will happen next" and other elements of a good story.

4. The vocabulary is perfect for her 4th grade level - a couple words per page that she doesn't know, but not so much that it's distracting or that it can't be inferred from the context.

5. The sentence structure is a little challenging for a 4th grade level - so again, a perfect conversation opportunity - and stretches her to read with better inflection once she understands the sentence.

6. And, of course, The Recipes - The Recipes are really much more exciting after you've learned how that particular recipe relates to one of the characters in the book.

So, every night at bedtime I read a chapter (or two). And, about every other night, she reads me a chapter. I'm just loving it!

Sugar Cookie Murder was the first Hannah Swensen Book that Zoe and I read together.

Zoe & I were Driving . . .

somewhere the other day, and Zoe said, "Hey Mom, Hannah would love this!"

Guess she's really connected with the characters!

(and learning the importance of character development in her own writing!)

How I Serve

Using My God-Given Talents

I'm a NJ divorce attorney because that's where my God-given talents of speaking, writing, thinking, mathematics, empathy, and creative problem solving are best put to use.

I enjoy helping others go through the divorce process with a little more sanity. I love being able to solve a problem that they thought was un-solvable, and helping them to focus on the important things when the whirlwind of divorce has most people lost in the chaos.

I boiled the must-know divorce essentials into my divorce e-book "Shark Bait: What Every Divorce Rookie Needs to Know."

How I Rejuvenate

Quilting, Cooking, Gardening

After all of that problem solving, I need to replenish and rejuvenate so that . . . I can create and solve MORE!

My favorite R&R activities are:

1. Quilting

2. Cooking

3. Gardening

Why are these activities PERFECT for me? Well, because for me:

Quilting involves MATH, and I LOVE MATH (because I'm a math nerd)!!! And, quilting involves color, imagination, design, texture, hand-work, and most importantly - it tunes my brain in to one channel (quilting), and thus gives the rest of my brain a . . . Rest! It's no wonder that I'm attracted to Amish Quilts - mathematical simplicity, with the creative intricacy of tiny quilting stitches.

Cooking is an incredibly creative activity for me. This is why I can't put a meal together in 20 minutes like my husband, but he cooks, I create. And, when I create, I create a lot - appetizers with interesting ingredients (like roasted eggplant in stuffed mushrooms), soups and entrees - and in large quantities (some day my husband really will invite the Picattiny Arsenal troops over for dinner). It takes days for me to think of the menu, list the ingredients, and shop, never mind cooking. And, I love that process - the imagining and creating of each part of the process is the fun of doing it!

Gardening gives me my connection with the Earth in a way that I just plain need. It's the sweatshirt and jeans, Red Sox and a beer, part of me. It's where the cerebral can take a back seat, and the physical can just thrive unhindered. Last year I spent 3 days digging up and amending the soil in my 8 x 10 foot community garden plot before I even planted a thing. And the creativity? The recipes and flowers that a small garden plot can create! Complete with butterflies! And, homeschooling "lessons" of the butterfly lifecycle, in fact lots of lifecycles, and how to pickle pickles! Plus. plans of plots of veggies and flowers, all with differing sun, water and temperature needs . . . what more could a math nerd ask for?

Did You Notice?

That the covers of Joanne Fluke's Hannah Swensen Mystery Series books all have a morbid little something quasi-hidden in its cover graphics?

Take a look at the Lemon Meringue Pie Murder cover again.

Cooking Together

I love Cooking with Zoe

Zoe, at age almost-10, has learned to enjoy the fun and creativity in cooking already.

The baking of Hannah Swensen's recipes is a new-found treat! Ooey Gooey Chewy Cookie Bars are especially kid-friendly to make. And, she loves treating her Dad to them. [My husband is on a diet, but he has a "cheat" day, so she asks him if he'd like those Bars or something else for dessert!]

Because she's been cooking for a while, we can discuss recipes - and possible ingredient alternatives, or recipe additions. We now especially enjoy discussing what we've read while making the Hannah Swensen recipes.

And, what Homeschooling Mom doesn't love to use baking to teach fractions?!!

Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder - A Hannah Swensen Murder Mystery Series by Joanne Fluke

Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder (Hannah Swensen Mysteries)
Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder (Hannah Swensen Mysteries)

The original book that started it all. Of course, being an unconventionalist, I read this book 3rd. One thing I love about Joanne Fluke's "Hannah Swensen" mystery series is that you can still get full character development without having to read the books in order. However, reading them in order does help you experience the events in the characters' lives that much more (e.g. Lisa's wedding).

My daughter and I made the "Chocolate Chip Crunchies" cookie recipe from this book - AND LOVE THEM (almost as much as Hannah's sister Andrea)! We made another batch of them with cocoa powder, which were very chocolatey, but not perfect (a little over-baked). Plain chocolate chip cookies get a little to boring for my "must-complicate-things-as-much-as-possible" spirit, and so the "Crunchies" really make these cookies a wonderful treat for me!

 

Our Favorite Hannah Swensen Mystery & Recipes

Do YOU identify with Hannah Swensen? If not, who is your fictional counterpart?

What About You

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    • TheresaMarkham profile image
      Author

      TheresaMarkham 4 years ago

      @four SusieQ: Oooooh, I am so looking forward to making those! I just finished "Devil's Food Cake Murder" a little while ago & enjoyed it. That Butterscotch Bonanza Bars looked like a very yummy recipe!

    • four SusieQ profile image

      four SusieQ 4 years ago

      I enjoyed your lens, especially about how Hannah and her gang have touched your life. I have read most of the series. Now I enjoy them in audio book format, which I can listen to on my iPod. That way I can have Hannah with me in my purse to entertain me will driving, or any time I want something to occupy my mind. I always take several of them with me on trips...with no "weight" in my bags. Today I made Butterscotch Bonanza Bars from "Devil's Food Cake Murder."

    • profile image

      Heard_Zazzle 6 years ago

      Hannah has great recipes. We made the chocolate chip cookie crunch recipe many times. Lots of wonderful corn flakes gives it a great texture. (We do back off on the sugar just a bit.) Eager to see more! Susan

    • crazycuriosity profile image

      crazycuriosity 6 years ago

      I love Murder Mysteries. I so can relate to Hannah with the puzzle solving. I used recipes from her books and enjoyed figuring out who done it. The characters from these books are so real to me. Instead of comfort food it is comfort reading for me.

    • LissaKlar LM profile image

      LissaKlar LM 6 years ago

      Congratulations on your purple star!

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Congratulations on being featured by the SquidTeam's Best of Standout RocketMoms

    • TheresaMarkham profile image
      Author

      TheresaMarkham 6 years ago

      @choosehappy: Thank you Squidoolinepro for the Squid Angel *blessing*! :)

    • choosehappy profile image

      Vikki 6 years ago from US

      *blessed* by a squid angel;)

    • TheresaMarkham profile image
      Author

      TheresaMarkham 6 years ago

      @SnoopyGirl1: Thanks SnoopyGirl1!

    • TheresaMarkham profile image
      Author

      TheresaMarkham 6 years ago

      @dwnovacek: 23squidoo, Thanks so much for your SquidAngel Blessing!

    • dwnovacek profile image

      dwnovacek 6 years ago

      I loved learning both about Hannah Swensen and (especially!) you!. Angel Blessings for this wonderful lens.

    • Lee Hansen profile image

      Lee Hansen 6 years ago from Vermont

      We have quite a lot in common - except I'm not an attorney! This lens is a most welcome addition to the voting plexo of award-winning lenses at Purple Star Pastiche. Stop by to vote for this lens and check out the more than 50 superb contenders in the list.

    • profile image

      SnoopyGirl1 6 years ago

      Congrats on your purple star!

    • TheresaMarkham profile image
      Author

      TheresaMarkham 6 years ago

      @SnoopyGirl1: Wow! We certainly do have some things in common! Great to meet you too :)

    • profile image

      SnoopyGirl1 6 years ago

      What a fun lens! It seems we have a bit in common. While I don't consider myself mathematical, I do love problem solving and things that are logical. I homeschool, and enjoy baking and wearing my blue jeans, even to church. Glad to meet you!

    • Vikk Simmons profile image

      'Vikk Simmons 6 years ago from Houston

      I love your introduction and think this take on an about me page is really creative and, even better, super interesting. Loved it.

    • capriliz lm profile image

      capriliz lm 6 years ago

      Very creative way to complete an "about me"! I like it very much.

    • SandyMertens profile image

      Sandy Mertens 6 years ago from Frozen Tundra

      This has got me thinking on what fictional character is my counterpart. Wonderful lens!

    • profile image

      GiftsBonanza 6 years ago

      With all this yummy food, how am I supposed to keep to my goal for 2011??

    • rlivermore profile image

      rlivermore 6 years ago

      What a fun lens! I'm not sure who my fictional counterpart is. . . Maybe Nancy Drew!

    • Ann Hinds profile image

      Ann Hinds 6 years ago from So Cal

      I read and cook from the Diane Mott Davidson books and read Earlene Fowlers book that involve quilting but have not heard of Joanne Fluke so it's something new to look into. Thanks for a great intro into this series.

    • hayleylou lm profile image

      hayleylou lm 6 years ago

      This lens will be featured on the upcoming lens, My Time as a Squid Angel :)

    • TheresaMarkham profile image
      Author

      TheresaMarkham 6 years ago

      @Elle-Dee-Esse: Thank you ElleDeeEsse for your Angel Blessing!

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      ohcaroline 6 years ago

      I think I most identify with Anne of Green Gables. I thoroughly enjoyed the book; most especially the pre-quil to the Maud Montgomery's book.

    • Elle-Dee-Esse profile image

      Lynne Schroeder 6 years ago from Blue Mountains Australia

      I love Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum. I think I am a little bit like her or maybe I was once in previous life. Angel blessed

    • hayleylou lm profile image

      hayleylou lm 6 years ago

      Never heard of these, sound great though

    • tandemonimom lm profile image

      tandemonimom lm 6 years ago

      I had not heard of Hannah, but I love good books so thanks for introducing me to this character - and to yourself! Great lens, very creative!