#Feline Patio Adventures With Sunnybud And A Trail #Camera--#Cats This Week by Karen Rose Smith





The east coast blizzard of 2016 was one for the record books--snow amounts in excess of 30 inches. And we were right in the storm's path! It would have been wonderful to sit in a comfy chair and marvel at the beauty of  the falling snow and reminisce in our childhood when we anticipated the storm's end so we could play in the drifts and sled down snow covered paths.  All this with a good book and a cup of hot chocolate would have been a perfect scenario.

But...
As adults we only anticipated the snow removal after the storm and the aching bones that would linger for days. Mainly for me, there was the concern for the outside felines that have been regular visitors to our outside shelters and feeders. How would they ever survive the brutal weather? The feeders and shelters were covered with several feet of snow and there was no way a cat could navigate through that.

After several days of worry about Sunnybud and his feline stray and feral buddies, constantly shoveling to make paths to the shelters and feeders, watching the food bowls that were not touched, I saw an unfamiliar stray dart from one of the shelters as I was sweeping snow. That was my first ray of hope that survival was possible. Then three days after the snow stopped, on my afternoon check of the sun room, there was Sunnybud! He looked tired and was hungry, but otherwise he was uninjured. Hugs and cuddling were very much in order and he invited both, as if he was glad to see me too. He snuggled on the heat packs I provided. 



In last week's blog, I mentioned that my husband had given me a trail camera for Christmas so I could monitor the comings and goings on the patio day and night. The camera was buried in the snow after the blizzard until hubby shoveled and reactivated the camera. It captured Sunnybud's return those few days later and his activity since. We know for certain that two other visitors have returned to the patio as well since the storm--a tortie we have dubbed Spice and a fluffy gray and white cat.  


Of course, paw prints in the snow and empty food dishes are also a reliable indicator that there have visitors to the igloo in the tomato garden and the other shelters and feeders. The camera, off course, shows us exactly who the visitors are (even the neighborhood raccoon!)



If I have learned one lesson this week, it is that I need to trust in the natural instincts of our feral friends. I can provide shelter, warmth and food, but ultimately I have to trust that their instincts also work to keep them safe. It truly makes each one of Sunnybud's visits a special part of my day. And while I hate leaving him after each visit, I feel blessed that he has etched a place in his heart for my affections despite his apparent need to remain free and a part of the outside world we sometimes fear. I guess he believes he has the best of both worlds!




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GILT BY ASSOCIATION, the third book in my Caprice De Luca Home Staging Mystery series, is set in February. Although there are no snow storms in the book that match the blizzard of 2016, you can get a taste of Pennsylvania winters as Caprice works to solve a murder while dealing with the wintry weather.







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 91st 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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Ten #Coping #Strategies for Grumpy #Winter Blues by Karen Rose Smith




I live in an area of Pennsylvania that received 30 inches of snow last weekend in blizzard proportions. You'd think we could just hunker down under a quilt, read and enjoy the down time. But...  We take care of stray and feral cats and had worry about them.  The service that was supposed to plow our walk and long driveway still hasn't arrived.  Work is backing up because of taking care of storm problems like a leaky pipe and other snow related issues. The stress of winter can cause "the grumps."








Here are ten of my strategies to cope:

Chocolate--any kind.  Hot, cold or in between.

Baking and cooking from remembered childhood dishes.  There's a measure of comfort in that and I feel as if I'm fighting the elements.

Audiobooks--I find if I'm listening to an audiobook, I'm less distracted by what is going on around me. 

Adult coloring books are great for my creative spirit and focus.

Breathing in the bracing cold air and try to remember there can be beauty in chaos.  The moon on the snow the past 2 nights was gorgeous. 

Connecting with neighbors who have the same plight. Conversation helps and it can even generate more coping ideas.  Banding together helps isolation.  

Calling elderly acquaintances to see how they are coping. They feel even more alone and isolated in situations like this. 

Cuddle up with a throw and a fur baby. 

Watching an old movie or series on DVD that I've saved just for this occasion. 

Cleaning closets makes me feel as if I have some measure of control.


What are YOUR coping strategies to dispel the winter grumps?



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GILT BY ASSOCIATION, the third book in my Caprice De Luca Home Staging Mystery series, is set in February. Although there are no snow storms in the book that match the blizzard of 2016, you can get a taste of Pennsylvania winters as Caprice works to solve a murder while dealing with the wintry weather. (Another coping strategy for me is reading a murder/mystery!)







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 91st 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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#Felines Keep Warm--#Cats This Week by Karen Rose Smith






When the weather outside is frightful and we have to venture out and brave the elements, we have our favorite ways to dress to keep us warm. Whether we don fur-lined boots, utilize knit caps, earmuffs and scarfs or layer our garments, we do manage to stay warm, despite complaining about much we hate winter and long for the warm sun-filled days of summer. I can't help but marvel at how our outside feline visitors brave the cold, find warmth when they need it and then trot off to go about their everyday lives. They are a lesson in survival and truly help us to appreciate the warmth of our homes that we so often take for granted. During the recent cold snap, Sunnybud, our outside daily visitor, is usually waiting for me in the sun room every morning, sometimes in his heated bed, other times on his favorite towel. My husband purchased a trail camera for me for Christmas and we have been monitoring the nighttime activities on our patio and in the sun room so we can better understand Sunny's and all other outside visitors' visiting schedules (more on that next week).

Even though they no longer have to brave the elements, our inside cats also search out extra warmth in the house on these cold winter days.

Halo loves a warm fleece blanket with a heat pack under it. She snuggles in and falls into a deep sleep, obviously cherishing her inside accommodations while probably remembering her days of survival as a stray.



Zoie Joy loves to sit in the sunshine to catch a few rays of warmth through a nearby window. As soon as the sun sets, she heads off for her favorite chair or next to my pillow on the bed.


Zoie and Halo have become more accepting of each other and many days both of them share the warmth of the bed. And, on occasion, Paddington also joins her mother and "sister" for a long afternoon snooze.


Paddington seems to like the heat from our central heating system. She particularly enjoys the towel rack next to the bathroom heating vent, as well as her favorite shelf on her kitten condo. It took me a while to figure that out the condo, even though it seems too small for her now, is located next to the heating vent in my office! 

And London...well she alternates between an upstairs bed and her heated bed near an upstairs window. Her older bones seem to enjoy the warmth that the two provide.  


Sunnybud seems perfectly content with our daily get-togethers in the sun room. He loves being hugged and cuddled on frigid mornings and getting a massage after his meals. Then after all the snuggling, he settles in his bread loaf position, signaling that it is time for me to leave or he takes leave on his own volition as if to say, "Enough cuddling is enough cuddling!" 





Halo also enjoys the warmth of an occasional sunbath, seeming to appreciate that she is feeling better after all her recent health issues. Or is she just waiting patiently for a tasty dish of Fancy Feast? The meow tells it all! 

If you'd like more information about cat shelters and saving their lives in winter, click HERE to go to my blog on the topic.

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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 91st 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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What #Clues Can The Cover of Cozy #Mystery SILENCE OF THE LAMPS Reveal? by Karen Rose Smith




What Clues Can The Cover of SILENCE OF THE LAMPS Reveal?  (SILENCE OF THE LAMPS is Book 5 in my Caprice De Luca Home Staging series.)

Catching a glimpse of my book's cover is always exciting.  I do love the colors on SILENCE OF THE LAMPS.  (Although no animals appear on the cover, be assured that Sophia, Lady, and Mirabelle appear in the book. Also, Halo--the stray we rescued from our backyard when she was pregnant--is Caprice's new rescue. She finds a home for her with a continuing character.)  There are subtle clues on the cover of SILENCE OF THE LAMPS about the mystery inside it's pages.  These are a few hints of the mystery pulled from the cover. 

The greenery from the shrubs outside the window suggests that this mystery could take place in spring or summer. 

The scene the cover depicts takes place in the house where the victim was murdered.  The victim was a male in his 30's. But the house belongs to someone older--doilies, antiques, velvet covered settee. 

The person who owns the house serves tea as you can see from the tea set on the table. 
(He or she might have been paid a visit by Caprice since biscotti are being served.) 

Those books on the bookshelves.  They could contain a clue to solving this murder mystery.

The Tiffany lamps become a huge part of solving this murder case.  There are two.  The floor lamp is in its usual spot.  But the table lamp...  It's base is missing. 

As you find clues along with Caprice to solve this murder mystery, I hope you also enjoy suspense, a few smiles, recipes and the fun of belonging to the De Luca family.



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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 91st 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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#Stray and Feral #Felines in Winter Weather--#Cats This Week by Karen Rose Smith




While the inside cats are enjoying the comfort of a heated home and warm blankets to snuggle under, our outside friends have been shocked with winter's chill.  A warm December had us all spoiled, resting a little more assured of the safety of Sunnybud and his feral "friends." Now January cold has us hoping that we did enough to provide warm shelters during nights when the temperatures dip into the teens.

Sunnybud has remained a daily visitor during it all. Some mornings he is waiting in the sun room on a fluffy towel. But other especially cold mornings, he is waiting in the heated bed in the rear corner of the sun room. One such morning this week, he had his morning meal, went outside to do his business and then quickly returned to the heated bed, sat in a breadloaf position and looked at us as if to say, "You can leave now. I'm staying!" Some very cold days he stays until mid afternoon then goes off roaming until his evening meal. Then he heads off to his nighttime destination. Other days he sits outside in the morning cold, contemplating where he will find warmth for the day. If the temperatures are reasonable for travel, he heads off for the day. Other times he waits around until other felines stop by the feeder and chases them away.

Regardless of his plans for the day, he enjoys a good meal on a warmed plate, snuggles in my arms for a bit of warmth, but quickly leaves when he's has enough pampering.

Suunybud sits in the comfort of a heated bed in the sun room.
Sunny explores a flowerbed under our deck before
returning to the sun room to finish his evening meal.


Sunny sits outside on a cold winter morning
contemplating where he will spend the day.

Sunny follows one of his usual exit paths. 

One of our visitors leaves after eating at a feeder on the patio.

We are constantly thinking of ways to improve our winter accommodations. My husband is rigging up a trail camera which we can put on the patio to study the comings and goings of the neighborhood felines and perhaps provide additional provisions for their safety.

The trail camera

We have also added another feeding station around the side of the house where strangers to the patio can feed without distracting Sunnybud.

The new side feeding station

Halo, who seems to have recovered from her recent medical issues, can truly appreciate both outside and inside feline worlds. A stray herself, she mostly probably endured some pretty harsh weather conditions and now seems to truly relish the comfort and warmth of her forever home as much as we enjoy having her with us. But coming to us and accepting our love and care was her choice.


The question that will always snag at my heartstrings is...will Sunnybud ever make that choice, or will the outside always be his world of comfort and safety?

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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 91st 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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