Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Cuddling #Kittens at Nine Weeks Old by Karen Rose Smith

Each week has brought new behavior and development with Halo's kittens--Tia, Mayzie and Paddington. This week they saw their first visit to the veterinarian for a wellness exam and the first part of their distemper vaccine. Tia and Mayzie came through fine, but that evening Paddington had a reaction to the injection. She trembled and seemed to be hotter than usual.  She also didn't seem to have any energy to play. I cuddled her for a long while and then my husband slept in the room with Halo and the kittens. About 5 to 6 hours later, Paddington's fever seemed to break and she began acting normally.

Suddenly, we lost our oldest cat, Ebbie--who was 14, this week. She had a heart attack.  We rushed her to the vet but after oxygen and an X-ray, we had to put her out of distress.  She was my best friend--with me day and night--and I was devastated.  The next morning, all of the kittens joined me on the sofa and fell asleep with me. Paddington was especially cuddly that day. Throughout this week, they played and then would fall asleep on our lap or nearby. They still squirm when we pick them up, but they allow us to pet them and hold them more.

In preparation for sending Tia and Mayzie to their adoptive homes in a few weeks, we've been taking one to another part of the house for a while. Mayzie has become more vocal this week with sounds imitating his mom's when she calls them.

The kittens all gained weight and weigh about 2 1/2 pounds. If I had to measure, I'd say they're about a foot long from the tip of their nose to the base of their tail. They are jumping higher and leaping farther. We removed two lamps with cloth shades from the room that were too much of a temptation. They still run and play together and sometimes sleep separately. Halo still washes each one of them and likes them near. She's a great mom.

More next week.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Creamsicle #Cake #Recipe for Fall from Karen Rose Smith

Here is a recipe I like to make this time of year because it's ORANGE and DELICIOUS! It's great for dinner with friends or a pot luck. I hope you enjoy it.


1 (16.5 oz.) package orange cake mix
2 (3 oz.) packages of orange gelatin, divided
3/4 cup boiling water
3/4 cup cold water
1 (4 serving size) package instant vanilla pudding mix
1 cup milk (I use whole milk so it holds its body longer)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 (8 oz.) container Cool Whip

Prepare and bake cake mix according to package directions, using a 9 x 13 inch baking pan.  Cool.  Poke holes all over cake.  (I use the handle of a wooden spoon.)

In a small bowl dissolve 1 pack of the gelatin in boiling water.  Stir until completely dissolved.  Add cold water.  (Very cold water works best.)  Then pour evenly over cake, filling all the holes.  Chill in refrigerator for one hour.

Combine second pack of gelatin, pudding mix, milk and vanilla in mixing bowl.  Beat well until thickened slightly.  (I mix on high.) It won't thicken as much as pudding.  Fold in whipped topping.  I like orange swirls so I don't fold completely even.  Spread the mixture over the cake.  Chill for several hours before serving.

Have a happy and safe Halloween!


©2013 Karen Rose Smith

Karen Rose Smith's romance website 
Karen Rose Smith's mystery website

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Kitties Everywhere, Halo's Kittens at Two Months Old by Karen Rose Smith

Halo's kittens are two months old!  It doesn't seem possible that at the end of July when they were born they weighed 4.5 ounces and now they're two pounds big. Although Mayzie looks the biggest, he and Paddington are about the same weight now--Paddington caught up since being weaned. And dainty looking Tia weighs the most.

This week brought the challenge of trimming a few claws.  We don't want the kittens to be afraid of the process, so we pick one up when they're sleepy.  But they wake up fast.  I think we've managed about three trimmed claws for Mayzie, five for Tia, and two for Paddington!

Their eyes are changing colors.  It's still a little too soon to tell.  Possibly by next week we'll know if Tia's and Paddington's eyes will be golden and Mayzie's gray or green.

The trio is definitely more active for longer periods of time.  We had some two hour play times between feedings.  They eat more canned food now at the first two feedings--a mixture of Wellness and Fancy Feast kitten food--without softening it with chicken broth.  They suckle less with Halo but do gather to sleep with her sometimes. I feel they really had a lot of socialization time this week with us as we handled them often, petting, brushing, teasing with toys.  They still don't come when we call but they sit at our feet and look up at us.

This week, they will have their first veterinarian visit and next week's blog will probably be all about that.  We have to decide whether or not to take Halo along.  She gets car sick everytime.  Would it be less stressful for her to stay here without them?  We're testing that theory.  We took the kittens to another part of the house for about a half hour twice now.  When they are first gone, Halo calls them constantly and searches every corner of the room.  Eventually she settles down to wait.  More about this in the next blog.

Halo still keeps track of the trio constantly but she lets me kitty sit.  If she knows one or two are with me and fall asleep, she settles nearby with whoever isn't under my protection.  She's a terrific mom.

More about Halo and her trio next week.

 My sleuth Caprice is an animal lover and takes in strays!

©2014 Karen Rose Smith

Karen Rose Smith's romance website
Karen Rose Smith's mystery website 

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Bake, Love, Write--#Recipes from over 100 Authors including Karen Rose Smith

I am so pleased to be a part of BAKE, LOVE, WRITE--Dessert Recipes from 105 Authors.  In this book you will not only find luscious recipes for desserts but a bit of relationship advice and even writing advice!  The recipe of mine that is included is CAPRICE'S CHOCO CHUNKS AND CHIPS Cookies.  I developed this recipe for my readers when my Caprice De Luca Home Staging mystery series was released.  (There are recipes included in each book--STAGED TO DEATH, DEADLY DECOR, GILT BY ASSOCIATION).  But I post an extra one whenever a new book in the series is released.)  My sleuth--Caprice, her sisters--Nikki and Bella, as well as her mom and Nana who taught her to cook and bake love to spend time in the kitchen together developing dishes.

Here is CAPRICE'S CHOCO CHUNKS AND CHIPS COOKIES recipe.  I hope you explore many others.

1/2 cup salted butter softened
1/4 cup peanut butter
1 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
3 teaspoons vanilla
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda
3 cups flour
1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
6 oz milk chocolate (I use two 3 oz Dove bars broken into small pieces or chunks.  These bars break or cut up easily.)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a mixer, cream softened butter and peanut butter.  Mix in brown sugar and granulated sugar until creamed together.  Add eggs and mix well.  Add cinnamon and vanilla.  Add baking powder and baking soda.  Blend well.  Add 2 cups of flour, a quarter cup at a time with mixer on low speed, constantly scraping bowl.  Stir in the other cup of flour, a quarter cup at a time, by hand until completely blended.  Stir in chocolate chips and chunks.

Roll into 1 1/2 inch balls, place on cookie sheet 2 inches apart and press down slightly with palm of hand.  (I usually put 12 cookies on one cookie sheet.)

Bake 11 - 12 minutes until golden brown and set.  (The type of cookie sheet you use can affect the baking time.  Darker cookie sheets bake faster.)

Remove from the oven and let the cookies sit a minute on a cool surface.  Remove from pan.

Recipe makes about 30 - 36 cookies.  Let cool until the chocolate hardens.  Unless you eat all of them gooey warm!

What do most authors have in common, no matter what genre they write? They love desserts. Sweets sustain them through pending deadlines and take the sting out of crushing rejection letters and nasty reviews. They also often celebrate their successes—selling a book, winning a writing award, making a bestseller list, or receiving a fabulous review—with decadent indulgences. And when authors chat with each other, they often talk about their writing and their lives. Recipes. Writing. Relationships. In this cookbook 105 authors not only share their favorite recipes for fabulous cakes, pies, cookies, candy, and more, they also share the best advice they’ve ever received on love and writing. 

Authors include: Brenda Novak, Lois Winston, Debra Holland, Dale Mayer, Shelley Noble, Caridad Pineiro, Diana Orgain, Lisa Verge Higgins, Lynn Cahoon, Jasmine Haynes, Jan Carol, Meg Bellamy, Bobbi Chukran, Melissa Keir, Amy Gamet, Kristy Tate, Terry Shames, Barbara Phinney, Kitsy Clare, Raine English, Cathryn Cade, Haley Whitehall, Shilpa Mudiganti, Melinda Curtis, Jessa Slade, Jill Blake, Daryl Devore, Molly MacRae, Elizabeth Rose, Helena Fairfax, Lourdes Venard, Jessica Aspen, Maegan Beaumont, Kay Kendall, Elizabeth John, Victoria Adams, Cyndi Pauwels, Alice Loweecey, June Shaw, Donnell Ann Bell, T. Michelle Nelson, Nina Milton, Pam DeVoe, Skye Taylor, Conda V. Douglas, Pepper Phillips, Judy Alter, Cadence Denton, Lesley Diehl, Erin Farwell, Regan Walker, Kaye Spencer, Barbara Monajem, Kathleen Kaska, Catherine Kean, Rose Anderson, Suzie Tullett, Deborah Hughes, Cynthia Luhrs, Judy Baker, Alicia Dean, Leslie Langtry, Janis Susan May, Mitzi Flyte, Ruby Merritt, Renee D. Field, Kathryn Quick, Susan Cory, Judy Penz Sheluk, Kay Manis, Kathryn Jane, Debra Goldstein, E. Ayers, Chantilly White, Sloan McBride, Triss Stein, Ana Morgan, Adele Downs, L.C. Giroux, Pamela Aares, Nancy Warren, Barbara Lohr, J.J. Cook, Lynn Reynolds, Cori Arnold, B.V. Lawson, Lynn Franklin, M.L. Guida, Irene Peterson, Sue Viders, Liese Sherwood-Fabre, Susan Santangelo, Sheila Seabrook, Elaine Charton, Sharleen Scott, Kathy Bennett, Jody Payne, Reggi Allder, Ashlyn Chase, Beverley Bateman, Susan Lohrer, Donis Casey, Barbara Leavy, Stacy Juba, Karen Rose Smith. 


©2014 Karen Rose Smith

Karen Rose Smith's romance website
Karen Rose Smith's mystery website 

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Expanding the Kitten World, Halo's Kittens at Seven Weeks by Karen Rose Smith

Halo's kittens have brought us untold joy.  Just watching them play is such a treat.  Playtime has become more energetic and wilder so at seven weeks we thought we should expand their world.  My office is a large room over our garage.  Up until now, we had makeshift barriers--an old door turned sideways--to keep them in a portion of it.  Halo has had the whole office since she came in in June but for the past six weeks, she has chosen to stay in the portion with her kittens.  For the past few days, though, she has been hopping the barriers, but still watching over them.

At eating time the past few days, we have taken one kitten at a time to the other area of the office to let them explore for a few minutes.  Yesterday we took all of them over there together for two play times.  This morning, Halo decided we should keep their world expanded.  It was amazing to watch. She jumped across to the new area while they played.  Then she called them.  She sat atop the sofa at the one place they could learn to climb up to arrive in the other section.  Paddington answered her call.  There he was, on top of the edge of the sofa, with no way to descend again.

So we opened up the office.  Halo led the kittens in running back and forth across the entire room and helped them explore the perimeters.  They played and explored, running crazily at times, for about an hour.  Then she called them to her on the rug in the new area and the suckled and napped.  But when I returned, though, they were in their old spots to sleep in my computer area.  It will be interesting to see if they keep that up.  Once the kittens escape their boundaries, there is no way to keep them back in.  We were lucky the division of space worked up until now.

This week saw the kittens playing with their own tails, climbing and leaping farther, and now scratching on surfaces that will help hone their claws.  Hopefully we have enough scratching posts around that they can learn to scratch on those. Also, they seem to have litter box etiquette learned.  We placed a box in the new area as well as two in the old so there is less opportunity for accidents.

We eliminated a feeding this week this week and hope to eliminate another.  They are eating about five times a day.  But they are also still suckling.  We are letting them lead into what we hope is a natural process.  I've consulted with cat friends and read any material I can find.  The vet tech told us we should separate them from Halo at six weeks.  My immediate reaction was to ignore that advice.  Halo is an excellent mom.  She keeps track of those kittens no matter where they run or try to play hide and seek.  Our situation is a little different than most with three other cats outside the office.  Also we will be keeping Tia for twelve weeks and Mayzie for 14. We're keeping Paddington with Halo. Separating Halo is not practical or at this time or warranted.  Friends who have seen many litters of kittens come and go have advised me that "slow" is the best way to go.  So we're not rushing this process that has been unfolding from the day Halo's babies were born.  They are heart-warming to watch. Halo is leading them and teaching them every day.

More of the kitten saga next week!

Search For Love Boxed Set One

©2014 Karen Rose Smith

Karen Rose Smith's romance website
Karen Rose Smith's mystery website 
Karen Rose Smith's SEARCH FOR LOVE SERIES website 

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Soup Season--Nana's Minestrone Soup from STAGED TO DEATH by Karen Rose Smith

At our house, fall and winter are soup season!  I have favorites I learned to make from my grandmother, mom and aunt.  One of the heartiest is minestrone, a full-bodied vegetable soup.  Over the years, I dabbled with the recipe and changed it to suit our family.  This is the one I included in STAGED TO DEATH, my first cozy mystery.  My sleuth Caprice loves to cook and I include recipes with each novel.   I love to make a pot of this soup for company because this recipe makes enough for a full table.

I hope it adds warmth to your fall and winter and brings lots of love around your dining table.

Nana's Minestrone Soup

2 tablespoons Extra Virgin olive oil
1 lb. ground beef
1 cup medium pasta shells
1 cup onion (medium), chopped
1 clove of garlic, grated
1 teaspoon salt (salt to taste, depending on the type of broth you use)
1/2 teaspoon oregano
A pinch to 1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper
2 cans diced tomatoes with juice (14-16 oz. each)
1 cup tomato juice
1 quart chicken broth
1 quart beef stock (If using your own, make sure it's full bodied.  You can add bouillon cubes to make it richer.)
1/2-1 lb. fresh endive or escarole, snipped or cut into 1/2 inch pieces (leafy green part only)
1 can Great Northern beans (drained)
1 cup celery
1 cup shredded carrots (I buy them this way.)
1 cup shredded cabbage (I use cole slaw mixture.)
1 cup sliced zucchini
1 cup cut green beans (fresh or frozen)
1 bay leaf
Romano cheese to sprinkle on top!

Brown ground beef on medium heat in olive oil in 8 quart soup pot. When browned (no pink remaining), add chopped onion, grated garlic, oregano and crushed red pepper. Stir for a minute to mix flavors. Add tomato juice, tomatoes, salt and stir. Add beef stock and chicken broth, then bring to a boil. Stir in Northern beans, celery, carrots, zucchini, cabbage and green beans. (If using frozen green beans, bring soup to a boil again before adding endive.) Add endive last.

Bring soup to a boil again, add bay leaf, then simmer covered on low for 30 minutes. Bring to a boil again, remove bay leaf, add pasta, stir once more and cook until pasta is the way you like it, usually 10-12 minutes, without lid. Stir a few times while pasta is cooking. Sprinkle each serving with Romano cheese and serve with crusty bread. Makes 12-15 servings.

Enjoy. Leftovers are as good if not better than fresh servings!

©2012 Karen Rose Smith  (From STAGED TO DEATH)

©2014 Karen Rose Smith

Karen Rose Smith's romance website
Karen Rose Smith's mystery website 

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

#Kitty Capers, Six Weeks Old by Karen Rose Smith

Halo's kitties are six weeks old!!! And growing. This week brought the new game of chasing mom's tail.

All three kittens, Tia, Paddington and Mayzie, are eating from dishes with a mixture of formula and kitten food. Tia insists on eating mom's whose is a special mixture of ground chicken, rice, pumpkin, chicken broth and kitten food. Paddington eats the formula mixture first then wants mom's. Just like kids who want what they want.

After eating about six times a day, they play for a longer period--tumbling, wrestling and chasing. We're attempting to teach litter etiquette.

The trio are attracted to toys now too.  They like the flannel strip wand and little plastic whirl-a-gigs that are easy to push and chase.  They are also taking to the chew toys.

At the end of play time, Halo calls her babies to her.  Sometimes two come and one falls asleep somewhere else.  They are suckling for comfort and for some food.  But often when I peek in, all three are sleeping in a huddle or they are all laying with Halo.

They are entertaining and a joy to watch.  So adorably mischievous and curious.  The wonder in their eyes is a sight to behold.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

What If Every Town Had A #MOMMY CLUB? by Karen Rose Smith

As a new mom, I remember the awe I felt when my son was placed in my arms. But I also remember the overwhelming sense of responsibility and the powerful realization that I would be taking care of this little being twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week! Fortunately my husband was an involved dad. We shared the joys and the sleep-deprived nights of those first few months and that made our journey into parenthood a bonding experience.

Away from the town where I was raised, I didn't have friends where we settled. Back then, new parent support groups didn't exist. So when I created the concept of THE MOMMY CLUB for my most recent romance series, it was the type of organization that I wish I had had access to. THE MOMMY CLUB is funded by a foundation contributed to by generous donors. In the small town of Fawn Grove, California, THE MOMMY CLUB has volunteers who help parents in need from food to clothing to a physician on-call to affordable daycare. The families who are helped want to give back and pay it forward. They become volunteers too and part of THE MOMMY CLUB network, helping any way they can. What if every town had a MOMMY CLUB?

In A MATCH MADE BY BABY, my hero Adam has the care of his niece thrust upon him. Unprepared, he calls in THE MOMMY CLUB. To his surprise, pediatrician Kaitlyn Foster shows up at his door. Their one encounter left them both vulnerable to the sizzle that now zips between them as together they care for Adam's infant niece. Irrevocable bonds form until neither Adam nor Kaitlyn can deny them. They are A MATCH MADE BY BABY. I hope you enjoy their romantic journey as they discover happily-ever-after is within their reach.

Copyright 2014 Karen Rose Smith

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Halo #Cat's #Kitties at Five Weeks! by Karen Rose Smith

It's hard to believe that Halo's kittens--Tia, Mayzie and Paddington--are five weeks old!  It was just on Mother's Day that Halo took a nap in our yard. And now her kittens are growing up.

Each week has brought changes and we can practically see them happening in front of our eyes.  This week brought something significant in their development--weaning.  We started with kitten formula which none of them seemed interested in.  Finally Paddington would lick some formula from my finger. So instead of just formula, we mixed in a little kitten food to make a soupy mixture.  Paddington was the first to try it and now enjoy it three or four times a day.  Tia was the second to taste the mixture and she eats, too, though not as much.  Mayzie was last.  No interest whatsoever for a few days after her siblings started. But yesterday and today after a few licks from our fingers, she is tasting from a dish, too.

They are all still nursing and we don't want too quick a transition for Halo's well being.  She still calls them to her. That is getting harder to do because they are exploring more of my office which we've tried to kitten proof.  Since I have a hard wood floor with a few scatter rugs, we stopped at a bargain shop store today for memory foam rugs.  They are great for cushioning the kittens falls when they venture onto furniture and can't get back down!

All three seem to recognize my husband and my voices. They look up at us when we talk and sometimes come running when we come in.  They like to explore our feet and even sit there to nap.  They also attempt to climb our legs which we are discouraging.

At first they were confined to one section of the room with creative furniture arranging.  Halo helped with that, showing them and teaching them boundaries by rounding them up when they ventured too far. But now, at times, they run off to explore.  Since there is a large cat condo in my office for our other cats (who we keep out of the office now), they are exploring that.  But we've had to add a folding chair in front of it for them to jump on to get down.  And of course those rugs around it.

They are so lovable and precious.  Two have adoptive homes to go to at about 12 weeks.  We're keeping the third, Paddington.  How can we not?

Until next week...



Award-winning and best-selling author Karen Rose Smith will see her 86th novel published in 2015. Although she has written romance novels for over twenty years, she has now branched into mysteries as well as women's fiction. Writing for Kensington Books, Harlequin and indie publishing her Search For Love series, she still saves time for her four rescue cats, gardening, cooking and photography. She has also developed many of her books into audiobooks! She looks forward to contact from her readers through her websites and loves to chat on Facebook (KarenRoseSmithBooks) and Twitter @karenrosesmith. DEADLY DÉCOR, book two of her Caprice De Luca home-staging mystery series, is available now.  Book three, GILT BY ASSOCIATION, will be released in February 2015.

©2014 Karen Rose Smith