Monday, October 27, 2014

The Beauty of Halo's #Kitty, Tia by Karen Rose Smith

Halo's kitty, Tia, will be 13 weeks old tomorrow.  Today, she'll be leaving for her forever home.  It has been such a joy to be around Tia.  She's sweet, affectionate, smart and playful.

Tia was Halo's last kitten to be born.  Halo was exhausted with the last delivery and we had to wipe the membrane from Tia's face to break the birthing sac.  The placenta wouldn't deliver and she couldn't make it to Halo's nipple to suckle.  So we had an emergency vet visit.  Fortunately, as soon as we were home, Tia began suckling on Halo's nipple closest to her heart and that's where she stayed...everytime.  Even when Paddington and Mason scrambled for position, she hung on.  She gained the most weight the fastest.

Tia has been a little lady or princess since she was born.  She has a little tiara on her forehead so we named her Tiara, Tia for short.  At first I thought she'd remain a little aloof and I wouldn't get attached.  I was so mistaken.  Of the three, Tia is the most calm and maybe the most cautious.  But she soon started looking straight at me when I spoke to her and rubbing against my hand when I reached to pet her.  She often falls asleep in my lap.

Kittens are wondrous creations.  From 4.5 ounces at birth and so fragile, she looked as if a breath would bend her, Tia has become a delightful sister, daughter and friend.  I know she'll make a wonderful companion for her new family.

We're sending with her our love and hopeful wishes for a smooth transition into her new life.

Kisses and hugs, baby.

Your first family

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

©2014 Karen Rose Smith

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Sunday, October 26, 2014

Our Favorite Pecan #Pie by Karen Rose Smith

                                                                PECAN PIE

I bake pies every season.  There are a few I especially make around the holidays.  This is my guys' favorite--pecan pie.  Here is the recipe I usually use. It doesn't last long!

1 cup dark Karo syrup
3 eggs
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups pecans (six ounces) I use whole ones.
1 unbaked pie crust (deeper dish safer)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Stir syrup, eggs, sugar, melted butter and extract, using a spoon.  Stir in pecans. Pour into pie crust. Bake for 60-70 minutes at 350 degrees. Pie is done when center reaches 200 degrees.  I use a candy thermometer. Tap center of pie lightly. It should spring back when done. (While baking I use foil around the crust edge to prevent over browning.  For this pie, I removed it five minutes before I removed the pie from the oven. Cool for two hours and store in the refrigerator.


Monday, October 20, 2014

Halo's Precious 3 Month Old #Kittens by Karen Rose Smith

Halo's kittens--Tia, Mason and Miss Paddington--have been a pure joy to raise.  They are three months old today. They needed the past 12 weeks to be with their mom, to learn from her, take comfort from her, and to play and cuddle with each other. To us they are the sweetest kittens in the world.

Within the last week, they have shown more independence, but still huddle together with each other and with mom. Since we are keeping Paddington, within the last week she has spent time at least twice a day with two-year-old Zoie. For the most part, Zoie doesn't hiss anymore. They've taken a nap on the bed together a few feet apart, chased up the floor-to-ceiling cat tree and slept on the separate shelves. Each day brings a little more progress and I'm hopeful they can be best buddies. Our older cat London has only glimpsed the kittens through the screen and seems to be in denial about their existence. She runs back upstairs.

Comforting each other after the vet visit.
The kittens saw their veterinarian this week for the second part of their distemper vaccine. Paddington received an extra injection since she had a reaction the last time. All three had no ill effects. They all weigh about three and a half pounds.
Some motherly comfort for Mason after his vet visit.

Where before the kittens had to be enticed with a toy to cuddle with us, now they sometimes seek us out...and nap close by. When we had company this weekend, six of us sat at the diner table. The kittens played musical laps but weren't intrusive. Each would settle on a lap for a while, then move on to another lap. Fortunately most of our friends love cats.

Paddy new favorite spot to nap--on top of the piano!
Mason explores the drinking fountain.

Tia will be going to her adoptive home on Monday. I'll be spending as much time as I can with her this week. It's an understatement to say I'm going to miss her. We are giving all of them as much love as we can and will be sending it with them.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Three #Feral and Stray #Cat Shelters by Karen Rose Smith

If you are looking to insert outside cat shelters onto your property, there are several kinds to buy or make.  Here are my top three.  If you keep the shelter near your house or patio, you can buy a heat pad for inside two of them.  The best heat pads (I use K & H specifically made for the outdoors) heat up to the cat's body temperature when the cat is sitting on it.  There should be an area within the shelter that the feline can lay beside, rather than on the pad.  Here are some links and types of shelters. We've lived in our area for years and have added one at a time.

We have one ArkWorshop cedar shelter around the corner from the house away from the patio and one in a garden farther away.  An outdoor extension cord reaches the shelter near the house for the heating pad.  It was important to position these away from the patio because sometimes a cat will claim an area and run the others off even in winter.  The Ark Workshop Shelters  

We also have a plastic igloo type shelter.  My husband drilled holes in the floor in the front so there could be drainage if water got inside.  Water hasn't reached farther inside this shelter even in bad storms because of the entrance and would not recommend one without it.  There is enough room for a piece of carpet in the back so the half moon heat pad doesn't slide.  The animal can warm up on the heat pad or settle next to it on the carpet.  This year we put the igloo in our tomato garden surrounded by hay bales to protect it further, insulate it more and to cover the front entrance somewhat.
Igloo style with entrance  

The last shelter we added is from Feral Villa.  (I also recommend their feeders.)  Ferral Villa's shelter has a two exit first floor with an insulated loft for sleeping.  We put ours under our deck but it would work well stuffed into the base of a pine or in a garden with brush as camouflage.  Feral Villa Cat Shelter 

I rub the openings to the shelter with catnip daily this time of year and drop a bit inside to encourage the cats to take a look.

Are they used?  We don't always know.  But we do have stray and feral cats in our area who deserve compassion and care.  I feel better knowing the shelters are there to protect them against winter.

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

©2014 Karen Rose Smith

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Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Preparing Halo's Kittens For Their Forever Homes by Karen Rose Smith

I spend each day appreciating the relationship of Halo with her kittens. She's still very attached and knows where each of them is. But she doesn't let them suckle as easily and sometimes separates herself from them so they nap alone. For the past week, we spent time preparing Tia and Mason to go to their forever homes.  Both are multi-cat families.

The adoptive parents came to meet Tia and Mason this week. They played and had great get-to-know-you sessions. Tia will be leaving the end of October and Mason the beginning of November.

We have moved the screen from the office doorway.  Twice a day, we open the kitchen and dining room to Halo and her trio. They needed new areas to explore or they get into trouble! In addition, our cat Zoie can see us interacting with Halo and her family.. Usually my husband stays with the kittens and I champion Zoie. Zoie would hiss when this began. But today she lay relaxed on her side of the screen.

I believe some cats are intuitive. We are keeping Paddington and Halo. Paddington and Zoie have gravitated toward each other, finally touching paws and noses through the screen. The others haven't done that. Today when Paddington tried to climb the screen, I scooped her up and took her into the living room with Zoie. They touched noses for real and sniffed each other. Then Zoie ran off and I returned Paddington to the kitchen. It was a good first meet.

Each day I spend with Halo, Mason, Tia and Paddington is a gift.

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

©2014 Karen Rose Smith

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Three Reasons Why I Write #Holiday #Romances by Karen Rose Smith

Many of my books include holidays--Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's Day and Valentine's Day. There are several reasons why I set my books during holiday festivities.


I think our hearts are attached to holidays. The memories of both happy and sad ones tug at us year after year and seem to grow larger rather than diminish. For that reason, my characters share emotions and heartfelt sentiments and that can't help but imbue my writing. Love for significant others and family seems huger, wider and more encompassing around holidays. Emotions run high and conflict as well as connection lurk around every corner, propelling the plot and urging personal growth.


Children appear in many of my romances. They are so much fun to write about during holidays--their wide-eyed wonder, their questions about holidays past, their yearning for closeness with the people who matter most to them. When I write about them I travel back into my childhood, putting out cookies and waiting for Santa, welcoming cousins to celebrate with me, reading the Christmas story, receiving valentines from friends and, in later years, from that special someone.


Most of all I write about holidays because readers identify with them. Each year, I hope for the perfect holiday.  I believe readers do too. In a romance I can give that to them.

Holidays can provide an extra spark to a story. That's why I weave novels around them. If you enjoy stories that surround the holidays, here are five you might enjoy:

 A doctor and a Wyoming cowgirl fall in love around the holidays.  Lucy's gift to Zack -- the real meaning of Christmas.

Love is just a jingle bell away when a sexy toy store owner and a pretty job counselor travel the rocky road to love.

A former stunt man turned lodge owner and a trauma make-up artist meet in Colorado to help an actress who has become a recluse.  When their scars are bared, they all learn the power of love.

Can a marriage of convenience become a true marriage?  Jake and Sara find the meaning of Christmas in forgiveness.

 Tessa and Max are reunited when Max's son needs them both.  Thanksgiving could be a holiday they celebrate for a lifetime.


©2014 Karen Rose Smith

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Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Halo's Ten-Week-Old #Kittens Meet Zoie by Karen Rose Smith

This week the kittens grew not only in size but in maturity. Tia, Paddington and Mason, now ten weeks old, still sleep together, depend on each other and play together.  Yet once in a while, they will go off on their own to find a place to sleep.

Halo still calls them all to her a few times a day. They suckle for a short time but basically just want to cuddle with mom.

Because our two-year-old Zoie is missing Ebbie who recently passed away, we put up a screen in a doorway so for short intervals she can see the kittens and Halo. Halo checked out the hall in front of the screen, but for the most part she lets the kittens wander and play there on their own. We give Zoie treats to coax her closer but she usually sits about twenty feet away to watch.

We are feeding the trio canned food four times a day and dry food in between. We have to be careful that Halo doesn't eat too much of their food because it will stir up her colitis. She's stable as long as she stays on her diet of ground chicken, ground rice and pumpkin with a trace of kitten canned food.

Paddy can now jump from the floor to the top of my desk!  Where one goes, the others won't be far behind. Now and then we take Tia and Mason to another part of the house to separate them from each other and Halo. Halo calls for a while to find them but then settles down.

Tia, Paddy and Mason visited with two children this week. The kids, who were fourth and sixth graders, handled them beautifully and the kittens had fun. They'll be getting company again this weekend.  Since my office is fairly quie, we play H&G TV during the day to give them a little background noise with human voices. With the screen up now and then between my office and our kitchen, they are getting used to household movement and appliance noise.

Halo's kittens are precious. Just watching them play and holding them when they sleep is an awesome experience.

More next week!

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