A #Spring #Garden in Pennsylvania by Karen Rose Smith






Spring has been slow coming to Pennsylvania this year. I can count on my hands the number of days with sunshine instead of rain! Still plants will grow and the landscape has turned unbelievably green. 


Irises like this weather!
Blooming in spite of the weather in this wet Spring are the irises. The pink with purple are my favorites.

I started geraniums and impatiens from seeds in January and heirloom tomatoes from seed in March. Inside on a heat pad and under a grow light they grew hardy. 



The impatiens are blooming. Now the problem is needing to place them in the patio sunroom and on the porch. But with nights still going down into the 30's until last week, they have stayed in the basement, especially at night, where they are safe. 



Columbine, Forget-Me-Nots and Pansies like the cool and wet Spring. The variegated sage has grown hardy too. I placed a few pots I planted on the patio with hope they can survive the rain. For the few nights in the low 30's, I covered them.





My hubby gifted me with this bird feeder that is fashioned of old glassware. I couldn't wait to put it in the ground. We planted a few snapdragons around it because we knew they'd be hardy in this type of Spring.







A Weigela and bird bath made from old glassware
After the next few days of more rain, we're supposed to have sun and 70 degrees for 3 or 4 days. Yes, I've turned into a weather buff this year. I'm hoping by Memorial Day the gardens will be awash with sunshine and flowers, plants and herbs will be adding color and scent to all of the gardens.


Two of our regular strays


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Karen and Paddy
USA TODAY Bestselling Author Karen Rose Smith is an only child who delved into books at an early age. She learned about kindred spirits from Anne of Green Gables, solved mysteries with Nancy Drew and wished she could have been the rider on The Black Stallion. Yet even though she escaped often into story worlds, she had many aunts, uncles and cousins around her on weekends. Her sense of family and relationships began there. Maybe that's why families are a strong theme in her novels, whether mysteries or romances. Her 95th novel will be released in 2016.

Readers often ask her about her pastimes. She has herb, flowers and vegetable gardens that help her relax. In the winter, she cooks rather than gardens.  And year round she spends most of her time with her husband, as well as her four rescued cats who are her constant companions. They chase rainbows from sun catchers, reminding her life isn't all about work, awards and bestseller lists. Everyone needs that rainbow to chase.

Karen looks forward to interacting with readers. They can find her at the links below. 


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#Feline Thinking "In The Box"--#Cats This Week by Karen Rose Smith






A common catchphrase that is used often when we are encouraging somebody...or ourselves...to be creative and find an out-of-the-ordinary or unique solution to a problem is "think out of the box." Sometimes we become so entangled in our own thoughts and ideas that it is like being trapped in a sealed carton. We need to break through those seals and escape "the box." On the other hand, our feline friends seem to do some of their best work "in the box." 

Whenever a mail delivery arrives, our furry friends await at our feet to claim the box. Perhaps there is safety in the corrugated walls or comfort in the confined area, but they definitely prefer to be "in the box." Occasionally a tiff will occur when more than one cat wants possession of the newly arrived cardboard fortress. Then the wisest thing is simply to remove the carton altogether. I often wonder just what they are thinking as they settle into their new "digs." Paddy and London are the most persistent in claiming a new arrival. Then as persistent as they were, suddenly the box is empty and everyone loses interest.    

When I recently purchased corrugated scratching houses for our inside cats, they all had to try out the inside before catching on to the true purpose of the structure--scratching. London became possessive and I felt the only solution was to purchase another so the vacant spaces could be more easily shared. Ironically, Halo was the only one who thought about the outside of the box and has made the roof her daily scratching pad. London and Zoie prefer to sit in the box structure and Paddy is the outside onlooker and agitator.

Paddy strives for the box effect in other areas of the house.  She prefers the tent effect of the towel rack or under the carpeted cat stairs where she is safe but can observe all the goings-on. 




Even Bonnie has been thinking "in the box!" On a recent visit she sat next to the litter box in the basement which has remained untouched since she and Clyde have been visiting us each morning and evening. After pondering awhile she moved "in the box." Now if we could just teach her to use the box rather than sit in it! 

On the other hand, Bonnie has been thinking "out of the bowl" this past week. After she and Clyde step inside for the morning and evening meals on the placemat right inside the basement door, I have been setting a second dish halfway between me and the placemat. Bonnie has be venturing over to the second dish. I am waiting for the moment when she thinks "out of the dish" and into my hands for a gentle petting. Patience is so hard when they are so darn cute and I want to scoop them into my arms and hug them.   


And, even Halo enjoys an occasional respite in the confines of the base of the kitchen cat condo. It's obvious that our furry friends like to watch the outside world from "in the box." They will gladly let thinking out of the box to humans!  


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THE WEDDING PROMISE
Book 8, SEARCH FOR LOVE Series

Sequel to HER SISTER
Release Date:  June 1, 2016




Beth Crandall has known trauma. Kidnapped from her birth family when she was three, abandoned at a mall by her kidnapper a few months later, traumatic amnesia has prevented memories from plaguing her as she was adopted and ushered into a "normal" life. But a twist of fate reunited her with her birth family recently and now she's attempting to move forward in a way she couldn't before.

As a teenager, Beth's face was scarred in an attack at a group home where her best friend lived. Now Beth is seeing a plastic surgeon, Dr. Sam Benedict, so he can remove the scar. Sam volunteers his time to the foundation Kids Cause which sends doctors all over the world to help children. Sam, who came from an abusive home, feels children need to be listened to and fixed. He and Beth connect on a deep level from the first moment they meet.

Beth has believed a romantic relationship is impossible for her given her background. But during integration into her birth family and throughout a search for her teenage best friend, Sam remains by her side. He helps to heal more than the scar on her face. Neither of them realize that Beth's search for her friend with the help of psychic Gillian Bradley (continuing character from other SEARCH FOR LOVE books) will land them in a fight for their lives.


THE WEDDING PROMISE will also be available in print and audio book formats
after its June 1 launch.  Watch for details.


******************

Karen and Paddy
USA TODAY Bestselling Author Karen Rose Smith is an only child who delved into books at an early age. She learned about kindred spirits from Anne of Green Gables, solved mysteries with Nancy Drew and wished she could have been the rider on The Black Stallion. Yet even though she escaped often into story worlds, she had many aunts, uncles and cousins around her on weekends. Her sense of family and relationships began there. Maybe that's why families are a strong theme in her novels, whether mysteries or romances. Her 95th novel will be released in 2016.

Readers often ask her about her pastimes. She has herb, flowers and vegetable gardens that help her relax. In the winter, she cooks rather than gardens.  And year round she spends most of her time with her husband, as well as her four rescued cats who are her constant companions. They chase rainbows from sun catchers, reminding her life isn't all about work, awards and bestseller lists. Everyone needs that rainbow to chase.

Karen looks forward to interacting with readers. They can find her at the links below. 

Continue >>>

Nikki's Carrot Surprise #Cake #Recipe from Cozy #Mystery Silence Of The Lamps by Karen Rose Smith






I like to have a few recipes up my sleeve for those special celebrations--holiday gatherings with friends and family, birthdays and graduations. This cake always delights my guests. I developed this recipe years ago when a friend told me her husband particularly liked carrot cake. I baked it for his birthday.  The recipe seemed perfect to use for my sleuth's sister Nikki's piece de resistance for the wedding expo in THE SILENCE OF THE LAMPS.  I hope you enjoy it too. 



Nikki's Carrot Surprise Cake

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Grease and flour 9 x 13 inch pan

1 ½ cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 ½ teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon orange zest
1 ½ cups sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
3 eggs
1 ½ cups shredded carrots
½ cup crushed pineapple, drained
½ cup chopped walnuts
1 cup flaked coconut

Stir together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and orange zest in a large mixer bowl.  To that mixture add sugar, oil and eggs.  Beat on medium speed for about one minute until well-mixed.  Then fold in carrots, pineapple, walnuts and coconut until completely blended. 

Pour into 9x13" greased and floured cake pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.  Let cool completely before frosting.  After the cake is iced, refrigerate until you are ready to serve it.

Cream Cheese Frosting

½ cup butter (softened)
1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese (softened)
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ teaspoon orange zest
1 box (1 pound) Confectioners Sugar

Beat softened butter with softened cream cheese until smooth.  Add vanilla and orange zest.  Blend in Confectioners Sugar and beat until smooth and spreadable. Frost the cake and refrigerate until you are ready to serve it.

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Available now!!! 
KAREN ROSE SMITH
Book 5, Caprice De Luca Mystery Series






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Karen and Paddy

USA TODAY Bestselling Author Karen Rose Smith is an only child who delved into books at an early age. She learned about kindred spirits from Anne of Green Gables, solved mysteries with Nancy Drew and wished she could have been the rider on The Black Stallion. Yet even though she escaped often into story worlds, she had many aunts, uncles and cousins around her on weekends. Her sense of family and relationships began there. Maybe that's why families are a strong theme in her novels, whether mysteries or romances. Her 95th novel will be released in 2016.

Readers often ask her about her pastimes. She has herb, flowers and vegetable gardens that help her relax. In the winter, she cooks rather than gardens.  And year round she spends most of her time with her husband, as well as her four rescued cats who are her constant companions. They chase rainbows from sun catchers, reminding her life isn't all about work, awards and bestseller lists. Everyone needs that rainbow to chase.

Karen looks forward to interacting with readers. They can find her at the links below. 

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#Feline #Companionship and Compassion--#Cats This Week by Karen Rose Smith



I recently put a new stepping stone in my garden. A Christmas gift from a friend, I loved the message and couldn't wait to put it outside. But as I glanced at it in its new home, I realized how profound the message really was. While we treasure all of our family members and appreciate all the wonderful qualities--love, caring, sharing, loyalty--that they provide to make our homes truly special, our pets fill in the gaps or even augment the human qualities to complete a family.

Bonnie and Clyde
I have observed and previously mentioned the wonderful bond felines have with each other and how protective Halo can be of Paddy, one of her kittens. I have watched Bonnie and Clyde and their togetherness as they explore the yard outside. But felines also share that same relationship with humans.   

Halo and Zoie sleep by my side.
Recently I underwent gall bladder surgery.  I received excellent care in the hospital and when I returned home, my husband was an excellent nurse. But it was my furry family that stayed by my side, day and night. Halo and Zoie have an uncanny awareness of how I feel. They will often settle right on the area of my body that aches the most, as if trying to extricate the pain. While I had to be careful that none of the felines jumped on my stomach, it was a comfort having them by my side or at my feet. Their compassion and companionship were as healing as the meds I had been prescribed. 


Halo is on guard while Zoie snoozes at my feet. 
There is always a lesson to be learned from our pets. If we are open to their loyalty and compassion and are willing to overlook occasional annoying behaviors that are typical of any pet, we will have a level of constant companionship that can transcend that which humans are willing or capable of giving. So often it seems we are overly bogged down by caring for our pets, but the rewards far exceed feeding, walking, playing with or cleaning up after them.

So give your pet a hug today, because tomorrow you can count on him or her being at your side when you need it most. It is in those moments that a family is truly complete.     


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E-BOOK NOW AVAILABLE TO PRE-ORDER
Release Date:  June 1, 2016

Beth Crandall has known trauma. Kidnapped from her birth family when she was three, abandoned at a mall by her kidnapper a few months later, traumatic amnesia has prevented memories from plaguing her as she was adopted and ushered into a "normal" life. But a twist of fate reunited her with her birth family recently and now she's attempting to move forward in a way she couldn't before.

As a teenager, Beth's face was scarred in an attack at a group home where her best friend lived. Now Beth is seeing a plastic surgeon, Dr. Sam Benedict, so he can remove the scar. Sam volunteers his time to the foundation Kids Cause which sends doctors all over the world to help children. Sam, who came from an abusive home, feels children need to be listened to and fixed. He and Beth connect on a deep level from the first moment they meet.

Beth has believed a romantic relationship is impossible for her given her background. But during integration into her birth family and throughout a search for her teenage best friend, Sam remains by her side. He helps to heal more than the scar on her face. Neither of them realize that Beth's search for her friend with the help of psychic Gillian Bradley (continuing character from other SEARCH FOR LOVE books) will land them in a fight for their lives.


THE WEDDING PROMISE will also be available in print and audio book formats
after its June 1 launch.  Watch for details.


******************

Karen and Paddy
USA TODAY Bestselling Author Karen Rose Smith is an only child who delved into books at an early age. She learned about kindred spirits from Anne of Green Gables, solved mysteries with Nancy Drew and wished she could have been the rider on The Black Stallion. Yet even though she escaped often into story worlds, she had many aunts, uncles and cousins around her on weekends. Her sense of family and relationships began there. Maybe that's why families are a strong theme in her novels, whether mysteries or romances. Her 95th novel will be released in 2016.

Readers often ask her about her pastimes. She has herb, flowers and vegetable gardens that help her relax. In the winter, she cooks rather than gardens.  And year round she spends most of her time with her husband, as well as her four rescued cats who are her constant companions. They chase rainbows from sun catchers, reminding her life isn't all about work, awards and bestseller lists. Everyone needs that rainbow to chase.

Karen looks forward to interacting with readers. They can find her at the links below. 

Continue >>>

Growing #Herbs for #Cooking and #Patio Planting by Karen Rose Smith




German Chamomile
As our diets become healthier, I cook with herbs to give additional flavor. I've always used bay leaves in soup and oregano, thyme and basil in my Italian dishes. I like to garden and for the past few years, I've cared for an herb garden. However, I became aware of the pesticide spraying habits of the garden centers. We had visited our favorite early one morning, only to discover we could hardly breathe in the vicinity of the plants from the spray they'd used. Did I really want to use those herbs in our food? (And pesticides last in the root systems. No amount of washing will clear them.) I've grown heirloom tomatoes from seed for about 6 years now and decided to do the same with herbs...or buy them from an organic farm. Localharvest.org was a big help in aiding me in finding organic plants and seeds. The site will also alert you with local farm fresh events. 

Basil Thyme

These are a few different herbs I decided to try this year. I found them at Mountain Valley Growers The healthy plants arrived in excellent condition at just the right time to plant them. 

Trailing Rosemary


Trailing Rosemary was a new herb/plant to me. It can create a fall of green over a pot or stones. I'll see what happens with it this year.



Since we have stray cats wandering in our gardens because of our outside feeder and two siblings who "found" our yard last fall, I decided to grow pesticide free herbs and plants to plant along the patio and in pots for them too. Some of them flower and all give off wonderful scents. This season I've had good luck growing Valerian, Lemon Catmint, Lemon Balm, regular Catmint and Catnip. Lemongrass will grow to about 5 feet tall until the end of the summer. And the Pineapple Sage actually grows to shrub size if given growing room.
Pineapple Sage
 
Catmint
If you have outside cats, keep in mind that many flowers are toxic.  Some safe ones to plant are snapdragons, zinnias, cone flowers, petunias, phlox and roses. Consult the ASPCA list.



I hope your garden can be a happy, healthy place for both humans and our furry friends. 


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Karen and Paddy
USA TODAY Bestselling Author Karen Rose Smith is an only child who delved into books at an early age. She learned about kindred spirits from Anne of Green Gables, solved mysteries with Nancy Drew and wished she could have been the rider on The Black Stallion. Yet even though she escaped often into story worlds, she had many aunts, uncles and cousins around her on weekends. Her sense of family and relationships began there. Maybe that's why families are a strong theme in her novels, whether mysteries or romances. Her 95th novel will be released in 2016.

Readers often ask her about her pastimes. She has herb, flowers and vegetable gardens that help her relax. In the winter, she cooks rather than gardens.  And year round she spends most of her time with her husband, as well as her four rescued cats who are her constant companions. They chase rainbows from sun catchers, reminding her life isn't all about work, awards and bestseller lists. Everyone needs that rainbow to chase.

Karen looks forward to interacting with readers. They can find her at the links below. 


Continue >>>