More Decorating Tips to Brighten Your Home for Winter by Karen Rose Smith


If you read part 1 of Decorating Tips for Winter, you'll realize you can brighten up your living space with small touches that make a difference when the sun pops in and out or doesn't shine at all. Decorating Tips In this blog I've spotlighted how I like to use light and glass and color.


Glass can create rainbows on the walls as well add shine to a room.

As you can see from the butterfly suncatcher above, I'm fond of suncatchers.  They catch whatever light is out there and help bring it inside.  This one creates beautiful rainbows on white walls.


Make collectibles work for you.




I collect cats and it seems everyone collects something!  Whatever it is, make it work for you to bring a smile to your face.  Put it at its best vantage point.  This glass cat helps promote brightness just like a suncatcher. 

Mobiles reflect and float!
 
Mobiles can work the same way as suncatchers!  And you can use them even in a small space.  They can add color, depth and whimsy.
 

Ribbons again.
In the last blog I talked about ribbon on doorknobs.  There are other strategies to employ its patterns and brightness.  For the different seasons or in different rooms, I wove yellow ribbon around this box to match the colors in our kitchen.
 
 
 
Colorful and bright placemats.

How about bright placemats.  You can see the blue one with bright daisies here. I'm using it as a microwave cover.  But if you find bright placemats for your table in a host of fabrics or vinyl, they can make a difference too. 
 
 
 
 
Paint!!!
 
Then there is the total makeover with paint.  Last summer, we decided to remake our kitchen into a brighter space.  We used yellow color blocking with yellow and white so the yellow wasn't overwhelming, including painting the table top.  This isn't the final version--I've added a flower arrangement and more to the wall grouping.  But even if the sun isn't out, when I walk through the kitchen I think it is! 
 
 
 
Have fun with color and glass to brighten this winter season.
 
 







©2014 Karen Rose Smith

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Meet Elizabeth Andrews! She loves a good #villain.







Today I want to welcome a writer I've known for a long time.  I celebrate the publication of her first book HUNTING MEDUSA which she considers a "hot paranormal."  My blog today is the fascinating journey of how HUNTING MEDUSA came into being--and why Elizabeth can fall in love with a villain!

From Elizabeth--
I have discovered in recent years that I'm a sucker for a good villain.  Not exactly romance novel material, I know.  But are there really women who watched THOR and THE AVENGERS and didn't look at Loki and root for him, just a little?  In my case, it was a lot.  I love the actor, the writing for the actor allowed him to make me like his character.  If another writer had created those stories, the character might not have ben so deliciously naughty.  He might have been a real villain of the sort viewers really want to have meet a horrible, painful end, like Voldemort, or Archie in ROB ROY.  The first time I watched Rob Roy, I actually wanted to kill Archie myself by the end and cheered out loud when Rob did the deed.  But sometimes a villain has room for redemption.  Look at Hades in WRATH OF THE TITANS.  After all the trouble he caused, he came through for Zeus when it was necessary to save the world.  Completely redeemed himself.

Looking at that last paragraph, I can see my love for mythology also comes through, as much as my love for a good villain.  There are plenty of villains in those stories, and some of them make my imagination run wild, thinking of ways their stories might be different.  Like Medusa.  I wouldn't call her a villain, though she is often portrayed as one.  Depending on the version of her story you read, she either bragged too much about her beaut or was raped by a god.  Either way, she winds up a monster, cursed by Athena.  Another variable in her stories are offspring.  Sometimes they're monstrous, but not always.  Somewhere in my brain that triggered a "what if" moment, evidently.  What if all of her offspring weren't monsters?  What if she had other children, human children?  What if they were cursed, too?  And, for me at least, Perseus isn't exactly a hero in the strictest sense of the word either.  Some of the things he does on his way to find and kill the Medusa aren't very nice, nor are some  of the things he does on his way back to stop a lecherous king from having his way with Perseus's mother.  This is a man who operates not in a black and white, good or bad world, but in a very grey area.  Is he good?  Is he bad?  He is both, just like most of us, and I doubt Medusa would call him a hero.

In a writer's mind, anything can happen.  Not that every writer can pull off the things that sprout in the darkest corners of their imaginations and it took quite a while before Medusa's story started to really come together in my mind.  Tucked into the front pocket of a binder with my original draft of Hunting Medusa, I have my scribbled notes from when the idea came to me and the are pretty vague:  Medusa, still cursed, PMS?  I don't even know where it came from.  Something I saw on television, I think, and I scrawled my notes and set them aside.  Until the idea cam back again.

At first glance Medusa is probably not an ideal candidate for image rehabilitation.  Either she's a vain girl whose punishment is well-deserved, or she's s victim being punished instead of her attacker, which would probably make anyone bitter.  But that "what if"....  It's the think that keeps a writer going to find out "what if".  I adore "what if".  I have ever since I was a child, reading every story I could get my hands on, then when I was older, writing them myself.

In this case, the "what if" lead me to a Medusa whose cursed descendants are still hunted by the descendants of Perseus, to the current Medusa who has been found by one of theses Harvesters.  But what if he doesn't know everything he needs to know before he finds her?  What if he finds something out after he locates his prey that stops him from carrying out his duty?  What if the Goddess is still angry?  What if they--oh no!-fell in love?  I certainly fell in love as I was writing this story.  I hope there are readers who love rooting for the villain as much as I do, and I especially hope readers will fall in love with my hero and heroine as much as I have.

Elizabeth Andrews

My shiny new cover art! isn't it pretty?

Hunting Medusa on Amazon

Hunting Medusa on Barnes & Noble

Elizabeth's Website

Elizabeth Andrews on Facebook

Elizabeth Andrews on Twitter


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Four Economical #Decorating Tips For #Winter by Karen Rose Smith


Do you fight the winter blues?  One solution might be to brighten up your surroundings during the deep months of the coldest season.  Even small changes can transform your perspective. 

Here are four tips I use in my own home to transition from Christmas to Spring!

Twinkle lights 
Twinkle lights aren't just for Christmas any more!  Use them through January, February and March to brighten up dark spaces.  I have a few strings that are battery powered and on timers.  They switch on for 4-5 hours every evening.  Or you can use the usual method of plugging them in.  I tuck them into shelves arrange them on larger pieces of furniture like an entertainment center, and thread them down a bannister.

Flameless Candles
Flameless candles are a favorite of mine all year long.  But especially when the light of day fades earlier, they can bring a warm glow to any room.  Again I like to use the candles on timers.  If I'm working in my office and walk into that brighter living room, the feeling is worth the price of batteries!  I have a candle in each downstairs room--candle shaped, tree shaped and angel shaped. I've collected a different one each year.



Flowers
Color brightens up space day or night.  You don't have to repaint a room to make a change.  Craft stores sell beautiful stems of flowers that just need a vase or mason jar for a home.  Take an arrangement already present and add new color to it.  Yellow, white, pink, orange and red add drama and warmth to a space.

Ribbon on Doorknobs
Have you ever tied ribbon around your doorknobs?  (If you have cats or dogs you might have to forego this one!) Choose a favorite color in fabric ribbon and tie a bow around your doorknobs.  Voila!  Color and brightness.


More economical tips for winter decorating in my next blog.


Read Karen's new mystery. Her sleuth, Caprice De Luca, stages houses, decorates, loves to cook and is an animal lover too!







©2014 Karen Rose Smith

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Karen Rose Smith's mystery website 

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Why I Use #Vintage in my #Mysteries by Karen Rose Smith


My dining room suggests the past.  My mom's dining room suite brings back so many memories--from the needlepoint coverings that she worked on the chairs to the scented candle she kept in the china hutch.  My grandmother's wedding photo deepens the past charm.  Rose petals in a lead crystal dish decorate the secretary.

Years ago, I didn't have an appreciation for antiques...or maybe even the past.  But when you lose loved ones, I think that changes.  Somehow that universal sense of missing as we grow older is eased by having "vintage" around us.  For many women especially, "vintage" has enduring appeal.  If the style has lasted, it becomes classic.  I believe vintage and classic speak to those deep-down feelings inside of us.  That's why I use it in my mysteries.

My sleuth Caprice De Luca is a modern woman in many ways.  But at thirty-two, she has a deep appreciation of her Nana and her mom's history, the time periods in which they grew up, the music, fashions and furniture that carry memories for them as well as for her.  Retro intrigues her and the fun for me is delving into the past to find fashions she wears and furnishings for her 1950's style Cape Cod house.

This series encompasses three generations of women.  The research, memories, and intricacies of writing with all of them in mind gives this series the unique quality I crave when I write.  I hope you think so, too!


Read Karen's new mystery. Her sleuth, Caprice De Luca, loves to cook and is an animal lover too!







©2014 Karen Rose Smith

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Karen Rose Smith's mystery website 

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How Did You Meet Your Significant Other? and #Lenox #Cat #Giveaway


How Did You Meet Your Significant Other?  To enter this giveaway for a Lenox 4 1/2 inch "Purrfect For Me" Cat figurine, in the comments below please share with me how you met your significant other!

I'm a romance writer and even my mysteries have a touch of romance.  I've been married for 42 years and believe in long lasting love.  My husband and I met at college.  We'd attended a retreat given by one of the clubs on campus.  We'd met briefly before that weekend, but that weekend we really talked and from there a friendship and romance took off.  Valentine's Day is a favorite holiday and we always celebrate it.

This giveaway is open until midnight February 7, 2014 EST.   That gives us lots of time to collect and read each others' stories of meeting our significant others.

Only US and Canadian entries please.  Also, you must leave your email address so I can contact you if you win.  If you want to message it to me on Facebook or email me at karen@karenrosesmith.com, that's okay, too.  

Good luck and have a great Valentine's Day.

Best,
Karen


©2014 Karen Rose Smith





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Blogs About #Stray, Feral or Homeless #Cats by Karen Rose Smith





Over the past year, I've been writing blogs about feral and stray cats.  We have three rescued inside cats. The third, our 18 month old baby Zoie, we found in our back yard in a bush! Since I thought her mother might be out there somewhere--we have a farm to the rear of our property--we left food out last winter.  Come June, a yellow tabby Lancelot adopted us and his saga is in one of the blogs listed below. Over the summer two other cats fed regularly with us.  This winter we have four or five who come to the feeder.  Only one will arrive when we are outside and he'll sometimes rub against our legs.  These four don't intend to stick around.  They don't need us like Lance did.  Come spring and summer we might be able to build more trust when we're outside on the patio more often.  Until then, we keep the feeder full, provide shelters--two with heat pads, and hope for the best for all of them.

I hope these blogs are useful to you.
Best,
Karen


Seven Lessons I Learned About Feral Or Homeless Cats 

Five Facts About Feral Cats Humans Must Understand

Winter Is Life Threatening For Stray And Feral Cats, Shelters to Buy and Build




Lancelot, The Stray Cat Who Adopted Us, In Memoriam 


Cats Do The Unexpected, Watching Over Feral And Homeless Cats



Friendship Or Mating, Watching Over Feral Cats

Watching Over Feral and Homeless Cats, Part 2











©2014 Karen Rose Smith



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How do you cope with #freezing #temperatures??? by Karen Rose Smith



Polar vortex or not, we've always had cold winters in Pennsylvania. Now when we hear a cold spell is coming, we think of the feral and stray cats outside. We have a feeder and shelters for them. We make sure the heat pads in the shelters are working, the heated bowl is set up and dry food is consistently added to the dish. If we see one of them coming across the field, we add wet food. But in 5 degrees, it freezes almost as fast as we put it out. For our three inside cats, I pull out mats that have thermal linings. They are supposed to reflect an animal's body heat and keep them warmer. They go to these mats in the winter and I believe they work.




When temperatures plummet, I pull out the camera.  In spring and summer I take lots of joy from snapping photos of our flowers and plants.  In the winter, I snap photos of the beautiful landscape, the feral cats, our three inside cats as well as dishes I've cooked or baked.  All of these photos come in handy throughout the year for Facebook, my blog but also for presents for next Christmas!  I use them for calendars and notecards. More personal photos are for special presents like pillows, throws and collages. 


When ice storms threaten or a blizzard, I cook.  I freeze soups and baked goods. If our electricity would go out, we could thaw soup and warm it on our gas stove or even grill.  Baked goods send wonderful aromas through the house and help ward off the chill of cloudy days.  I use this winter time for developing recipes for my mysteries or just stocking up.


Years ago, an alternative therapy practitioner informed me that electric blankets were not healthy, just as having a cell phone by your ear when you're sleeping might not be healthy. Since I have arthritis problems, etc. I haven't used one for twenty years!  But with the cold temps, I got one again.  And...I'm definitely sleeping better using it.  Besides that, our three rescued inside cats love it too!



I find that this time of the year is the best for writing.  I love the silence and quiet that snow brings. I like the cozy, under a fuzzy throw with my cats contentment of hunkering down and letting distractions fade away.  My husband and I spend more time indoors together this time of year, too, and that together time is something to look forward to.

In January I begin spring planting.  Geraniums have to be planted now to be ready to plant out in summer. I use a heat pad and grow light in our basement.  This time of year when the outside landscape can seem barren, it's magical to watch seeds transform into seedlings and then viable plants.


 

And last but not least, in winter I probably read and listen to audiobooks more than I do in any other season.  With less activity outside, I plug in my earphones or pick up my Kindle more often.  Research comes more easily this time of year, too.  I just finished spending a morning watching a puppy training video for my next mystery.  I can't imagine doing that except on the run in spring, summer and fall.

So...how do you cope with freezing temperatures to make your way through winter into spring?







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©2014 Karen Rose Smith 
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How To Adopt A #Wolf at the Wolf Sanctuary of PA by Karen Rose Smith


The Speedwell Forge Wolf Sanctuary of Pennsylvania is a place where wolves who have been treated badly or who are homeless can come to recuperate and thrive.  This sanctuary is completely non profit, run by dedicated volunteers.  It was easy to see that dedication when I visited the sanctuary.  Hunters as well as restaurants in the area donate food. Care of the wolves and upkeep of the property is constant.

One of the ways the sanctuary can remain non profit is its ADOPT A WOLF program.  When we visited the sanctuary the first time, we took the Full Moon Tour.  That meant on a Saturday night mid month when the moon was full, volunteers stood at the fenced in areas at the wolf packs closest to the parking area, ready to answer questions and talk about the wolves--gray wolves, timber wolves and hybrids.  After that visit, I adopted Yellow Feather and I ordered an adoption packet for my husband for his birthday for Dakota.  I was so fascinated by the wolves that we went back for a private two hour tour a few weeks later.  On that tour, I particularly focused on Thor, a wolf with cataracts.  His story is here at my blog: Adaptation Is The Greatest Gift (Thor) . After that visit, I symbolically adopted him.  I wanted to be a part of this special place and help preserve the sanctuary and the wolves.
Dakota, Yellow Feather, and Thor

The donation for a symbolic adoption at the wolf sanctuary is $40.00.  You can adopt a wolf or send a packet to a loved one or friend as a gift.  The kit you will receive includes a photo of your wolf, an adoption certificate, a biography about your wolf and a wolf information sheet.        


Click here to find out more.  ADOPT A WOLF PROGRAM, Speedwell Forge  

For information about Speedwell Forge Wolf Sanctuary go to their main page which is the portal to tour information, the adoption program, their family of wolves and much more. Wolf Sanctuary website  If you are ever in the Lititz, Pennsylvania surroundings, this is definitely a stop you should make when touring the area.

As the wolf sanctuary has expressed on its website--Extinct Is Forever. 

 Karen's Visiting Speedwell Wolf Sanctuary Blog










©2013 Karen Rose Smith





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Silent Butler Holds #Dreams by Karen Rose Smith


This silent butler belonged to my parents.  It sat on our coffee table throughout my childhood and fascinated me. Most of the time it held keys.  I didn't know what all of those keys opened but my parents did.

Now this silent butler sits in my office.  It's one of the antique pieces I've decorated my sleuth's house with too in my cozy mystery...for a very special reason.  She and I use it for the same thing.  It holds our dreams and what we want to become.  I don't list new year's resolutions.  By the end of each year, the universe seems to tell me what lesson I need to work on the next year, whether it's patience, rolling with the punches, or this year learning to accept change.  Whatever it is, I write it on a piece of paper and keep it in my silent butler.  The same is true for my dreams.  I might not tell anyone what I'm dreaming because it might seem too preposterous or too grand or too foolish.  But that silent butler accepts my dreams and holds them safely.  Writing them on paper an dropping them inside sends a message to my inner child, my subconscious, and the universe.  I'm a big believer in--if you can think and believe it, you can achieve it.

If you have a favorite jar or box or drawer, take a moment to jot down your dreams and slip them inside.  I'm hoping all your dreams and aspirations for the new year come true.

Best,
Karen



Read Karen's new mystery. Her sleuth, Caprice De Luca, slips her dreams and affirmations into her silent butler.  She loves to cook and is an animal lover too!





©2013 Karen Rose Smith

Karen Rose Smith's romance website 

Karen Rose Smith's mystery website 

Karen Rose Smith's SEARCH FOR LOVE SERIES website 

IN TOUCH WITH KAREN ROSE SMITH ezine

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