A note about The Cuddlywumps Chronicles

This blog is written and maintained by Miss Cuddlywumps, a fluffy-tailed calico cat who is both classically educated and familiar with mysteries. Comments or complaints should be addressed to Miss C rather than to author Roby Sweet. Ms. Sweet accepts no responsibility for Miss C's opinions.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Pumpkin Man Giveaway and Friendly Fill-Ins for October 28

Entrance to Berlin Creek Gallery, with flowers and ceramic pumpkins on steps.
The entrance to Berlin Creek Gallery. If you ever go
there, you will be welcomed like an old friend,
even if you're just some random person who
wanders in.

Pumpkin Man Giveaway

Last week, old SoLT was in Ohio to visit family, and one day she went to the Amish Country, where she visited the Berlin Creek Gallery in Berlin, Ohio. This is a little gallery that is packed with art by P. Buckley Moss, Thomas Kinkade, and others. Old SoLT’s grandmother has had many pictures framed there over the years, and they do a fabulous job.

Why am I telling you this? Well, old SoLT found a bunch of really cute prints by Diane Graebner of Millersburg, Ohio, and she got one just for you. It’s called “Pumpkin Man,” and it is a limited-edition print (no. 4 of 4). As you can see, this is a fall-themed print that includes a little black cat and a goose. We are offering it in our first-ever giveaway, which you can enter in the Rafflecopter below. Good luck!

The so-cute "Pumpkin Man" print by Diane Graebner.
One of you will win it in our giveaway!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friendly Fill-Ins

"Mom and Kits" print by Diane Graebner. A girl in a bonnet sits with 3 black cats.
"Mom and Kits" print by Diane Graebner.
Old SoLT's mother bought this one and had
it custom-framed at the gallery. The framing is
a work of art in itself!
And now for Friendly Fill-Ins from 15andmeowing and McGuffy’s Reader. They are a fun way to learn a little bit about the authors of the blogs you read. The first two questions, answered by old SoLT, are from Ellen of 15andmeowing, and the next two, answered by Real Cat Paisley, are from Annie of McGuffy’s Reader.

Old SoLT’s answers:
1. The first thing I check when I go online is The Cuddlywumps Cat Chronicles, to promote the latest post and to make sure there’s nothing wrong. It’s kind of my obsession right now.

2. My signature dish is 3-bean turkey chili. Sometimes it’s 4-bean or 2-bean turkey chili, depending on what’s in the pantry, but it is always tasty. I also make an awesome turkey-n-veggie sloppy joe (adapted from my grandmother’s “regular” sloppy joe recipe) and a cranberry-chili chicken that goes great with sweet potatoes or fall squash…And now I’m hungry!

Real Cat Paisley’s answers:
3. My Halloween night is usually awful. Too much doorbell ringing, too many small people in weird clothing. It should be made illegal, I think.

4. Trick or treaters … Please see previous answer.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Miss Cuddlywumps Converses: with Artist Beth Spencer

Friends, a few weeks ago we were prowling around on Etsy (as you do) when we stumbled across these really cute cat pins from Beth Spencer. We just knew that you all would love them as much as we do, and so we’re pleased to welcome Beth Spencer herself to our blog and to this edition of "Miss Cuddlywumps Converses" to tell us a little bit about herself and her work.

Photo of Beth Spencer with her cat, Sean.
Beth Spencer with her cat, Sean. We think Sean must be a pretty
great cat since he got this dog person to start liking cats!

Love Me Cat Pin, showing a woman trying to kiss a cat, who is resisting.
This Love Me Cat Pin is one
of the things that first caught
our eye. So cute!
Miss C: Beth, we’re really excited that you could join us today. You create so many cute cat items, but I understand that you didn’t always like cats. This seems impossible to me, but if it’s true, what made you start liking cats? 

Beth: Cats were sort of a mystery to me until I adopted my first one in 2013. I wanted a companion for my dog, Lisa. I applied to adopt a three-legged tabby kitten named Sean, and picked him up the next day. Since I've always had dogs, I was a bit nervous about what to expect.

Miss C: I’ll bet you’ve learned a lot from cats, right?

T-shirt with "Cat lady til I die" printed on it.
Might as well admit it: if
you're reading this blog, you can
probably relate to this shirt!
Beth: Cats have taught me to be open minded, patient and never stop trying new things! I can’t imagine where I’d be if I hadn’t adopted my first cat and learned what a joy kitties are. 

Miss C: Yes, lots of people would benefit from being around us cats, if only they’d give us a chance. We have so much to teach people! Let’s take a look at some of your art now. Tell us, where do you get your inspiration, and what kind of items do you create?

Beth: My own cats, as well as some whom I’ve had the pleasure of meeting at the animal shelters in town, are my main source of inspiration. Their mannerisms and personalities can easily turn into a funny greeting card or cartoon on my social media. I create pins, greeting cards, tote bags and magnets!

Detail of Cat Lady Til I Die t-shirt, showing cartoon woman holding several cats.
Detail of the cat lady shirt.
Miss C: Cats are inspirational, aren’t we? We love it that you decided to use your inspiration to create great items for people. My favorite is the SuperCat Lady Pin Collection. When and how did you decide to turn your talent into a business?

Cat Party magnet collection: six circular magnets, each with a different cat face.
Cat Party magnet collection. We like them all, but we're
partial to the Calico-Oh yeah! and the Tortitude.
Beth: I opened my Etsy shop in June. It’s been magically fun and I’ve learned so much!

Miss C: What do you hope people will take away from your work, or how do you hope to touch people through your work?

Beth: I hope to make people laugh, find new perspectives and inspire them to do good things. 

Tote bag with picture of mother cat pushing kitten in shopping cart.
Everybody needs a tote bag, and you might as well
have a cute one, like this tote with a mother cat
pushing her kitten in a shopping cart.
Miss C: Thank you, Beth, for taking the time to join us today. We’ve really enjoyed it. Before you go, can you let us know where can people find out more about you and your art?

Beth: Please visit my website at BethSpencerDesign.com, or follow me on the links below! 

Beth Spencer's work space, with a green desk, books, and a small TV.
Beth Spencer's work space, where she creates all of
these fun things. we love the green desk!

All photos courtesy of Beth Spencer.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Cat of the Week: Pumpkin Pie in Baltimore

Each week in this space, we feature a senior cat in need of adoption or sponsorship. Please remember all the older cats in shelters. They make great companions, and unlike kittens, they (probably) won’t climb the curtains! Adopt a senior cat, and help him or her enjoy the best years of their life.

Pumpkin frame graphic with orange tabby cat

Pumpkin graphic: stock image by socris79 via Adobe Stock.
This week, we just could not resist introducing this beautiful orange tabby named Pumpkin Pie. She is 7 years old, and she is currently with the Baltimore Humane Society. Pumpkin Pie is a shy kitty who is uncomfortable in the shelter environment and would really like to find a loving home. She would probably do best as an only cat. It may take her a while to warm up to a new person, so you should be prepared to be patient with her and just give her lots of calm encouragement. She does enjoy getting pets on her head and neck.

Learn more about Pumpkin Pie here.

Can’t adopt? You can still help! Check out Sammy’s Cat Necessities Fund, which provides money for everyday and medical needs of cats at the Baltimore Humane Society. You can also make a general donation or sponsor a particular animal on this page. Every little bit helps!

Monday, October 24, 2016

Book Review: Death by Pumpkin Spice

One week before Halloween, it’s only appropriate that we bring you our review of a cozy mystery set at a Halloween party. Death by Pumpkin Spice is the third book in the Bookstore Café series by Alex Erickson. It is the first book we’ve read in the series, and we found it to be a lot of fun, though the cats in the book aren’t as prominent as we’d hoped.

The story: Murder at a posh Halloween bash

Krissy Hancock is the co-owner of a café called Death by Coffee (this is absolutely the place old SoLT would hang out in—if, you know, it were a real place). There is a black-and-white store cat named Trouble, and Krissy also has an orange cat named Misfit. The Halloween season is one of Krissy’s favorite times of year because she is a fool for pumpkin-flavored anything (as is old SoLT). Given her love of Halloween, you’d think that she’d be delighted when a very eligible bachelor invites her to a posh Halloween bash, but Krissy fears that she won’t fit in among that crowd.

Actually, considering the series of odd things that takes place at this party, it’s a good thing Krissy doesn’t fit in.

But first things first. She manages to buy a Sherlock Holmes get-up that is perfect for her, since she is becoming known for her ability to solve murders, and she and Will (the previously mentioned eligible bachelor, who happens to be a doctor) head off to the party, driving through a rainstorm up a treacherous driveway to a mansion that is like… Well, actually I don’t know what it is like, so let’s just say it is extremely decorated for Halloween. Extremely decorated.

The extremely decorated house would be interesting enough (for the guests and for us), but then comes a marriage proposal gone wrong (dare I say extremely wrong?), followed in short order by the murder of the woman who turned down the proposal.

There is nothing like a brutal strangulation to stir up a party.

Man trouble

The murder also stirs up Krissy’s man trouble, by which I mean she hardly knows which of two attractive men to turn to: Will the doctor or Paul the police officer? Krissy is at the party with Will, but she is still attracted to Paul, whom she went out with exactly once, and now her involvement in the investigation is putting her and Paul together more and more. And remember that rainstorm? Well, it has really messed up that treacherous driveway, meaning help is not arriving anytime soon. Krissy and all the other party guests are stuck with a murderer among them.

I will mention that two Persian cats make a brief appearance but play no part in the larger plot.

The verdict

Death by Pumpkin Spice is an excellent read. The plot is nicely done—most of it takes place on the one night of the party, but plenty happens to keep things interesting and keep the story humming along. It helps that the characters are well drawn, and most importantly, they keep your interest because quite a few of them are just plain weird—and I mean that in the best possible way. They are the kind of weird that is fun to talk about. Plus, at this party they are all in costumes, which makes them even more fun to read about.

We enjoyed the tension Krissy feels as she struggles to decide between Will and Paul. Truth be told, we’d have trouble making that decision too, because they’re both great guys. Still, our advice to Krissy would be to “dance with the one who brung ya.” I’m not going to tell you if that is what she does, because that would just ruin things for you.

We’re holding back a paw only because the cats in this book aren’t major players in the story. If you’re not a cat-cozy purist, we think you’ll love this book and the whole Bookstore Café series. We’re hoping we’ll find time to read the other books in the series!

A note on the "Paws Up" system: Miss C gives either one or two paws up. One paw is for a good read; two paws is for a great read. She never gives three or four paws because that would require her to lie on her back...and Miss C does not do that!

We received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. We wouldn’t tell you it was good unless we really liked it!

The link below is an Amazon Associates link. If you purchase the book through this link, old SoLT and I could get some coin for our kibble account.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Caturday Art: The Legend of Catnap Hollow

Here we are, all set for Athena's Caturday Art blog hop. With apologies to Washington Irving, old SoLT offers the following poster for another movie we would like to see, The Legend of Catnap Hollow.

This scene was created with a couple of stock images (Spooky background by auipuistock, via Adobe Stock; Headless horseman by Michele Paccione, via Adobe Stock) and cutouts of the Real Cats. It only took old SoLT one hour and a moderate amount of cursing to figure out how to separate the cats from their original background. Too bad she doesn't remember how she did it. Next came some spooky eyes and bats from PicMonkey. She finished it off with a frame. We think The Legend of Catnap Hollow would make an excellent movie...excuse me...film. It would make an excellent film.

Friday, October 21, 2016

A Haunting in Maryland and Friendly Fill-Ins

We have two treats for you today. First, a story that is either spooky or just one of those things, depending on your perspective. And then Friendly Fill-Ins, one of our new favorite things.

A Haunting in Maryland(?)

She of Little Talent swears that the story I am about to tell you is absolutely, 100 percent true. We have not invented, embellished, or exaggerated any details. It happened exactly like this:

A cute ghost cat with a jack o'lantern
Was it a ghost, a figment,
or just one of those things?
Stock image by  sidliks, via Adobe Stock.
One afternoon not too long ago, old SoLT was sitting at her desk working, as she does most days. So there she was, just tapping away at her computer, when she felt the distinct sensation of a cat rubbing against her left shin. She naturally thought it must be Real Cat Paisley, who is the cat most likely to do such a thing, so she pushed back from the desk and said, “Paisley’s here!” (Old SoLT gets positively giddy when Paisley comes in the office; really, it’s almost embarrassing.)

The only thing was, when old SoLT looked under the desk to pet the cat, there was no Paisley. Maybe Paisley snuck into some corner of the office, old SoLT naturally thought next. But when she looked all around the office, there was no Paisley. There was also no Webster, and the dog was sound asleep. The door to the office was open a crack, as is normal, but not wide enough for a cat to sneak in and sneak out again. No, there were no squirrels or raccoons or badgers or any other animal that might have made itself friendly with old SoLT’s leg.

So old SoLT’s question was “What just touched me?”

What indeed. I leave you to draw your own conclusions.

Friendly Fill-Ins

Friendly Fill-Ins badge
And now to Friendly Fill-Ins, from 15andmeowing and McGuffy’s Reader. They are a fun way to learn a little bit about the authors of the blogs you read. The first two questions, answered by old SoLT, are from Ellen of 15andmeowing, and the next two, answered by Real Cat Paisley, are from Annie of McGuffy’s Reader.

Old SoLT's answers:
1. One Halloween, I dressed as …well, I’ve had a lot of boring costumes. One year I wanted to be Darth Vader but my mom told me no, so I went as a skeleton. That was the same year that I tripped while trick-or-treating and spilled my candy.

2. My favorite comedian is Ellen Degeneres.

Paisley's answers:
3. My scariest Halloween was … I have to pick just one? Are you kidding? Every Halloween is scary, what with all those small, oddly dressed people ringing the doorbell and making demands.

4. Anything crunchy is my favourite Halloween treat. I do not care for the chewy treats. 

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Book Review: Circles of Delight: Classic Carousels of San Francisco

Two domestic cat carousel carvings with fish in their mouths. San Francisco Zoo Carousel.
Domestic cats with fish in their
mouths, San Francisco Zoo Carousel.
By Daderot (Own work) [Public domain or CC0],
via WikimediaCommons.

We received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. We wouldn’t tell you it was good unless we really liked it!

Please note that the photos in this review do not come from Circles of Delight. They are representative photos of the carousel at the San Francisco Zoo.

Remember carousels? Handing over your ticket and stepping onto the platform to search out that one perfect horse. The music, the round-and-round, the one kid who always got sick from the round-and-round… At least that’s how old SoLT’s memories run.

Some carousels have cats

You may be wondering why we’re talking about carousels on a cat blog. Well, it’s because some carousels (only the best ones, we think) include carved lions and tigers and even domestic cats right alongside the usual prancing horses, and you can see some of these cats in the book Circles of Delight: Classic Carousels of San Francisco, by Aaron Shepard.
Standing lion on the San Francisco Zoo Carousel.
By Daderot (Own work) [Public domain or CC0],

This book is heavy on photos and short on text, but it does provide the basic history of the carousels at the San Francisco Zoo, Yerba Buena Gardens, and Golden Gate Park. You can also pick up a little carousel lingo just by reading the photo captions: jumper, listener, stander. And for the cat fans out there, the carousels’ felines are a delight.

The San Francisco Zoo Carousel features tigers, lion, and jumping cats. The Yerba Buena Gardens Carousel doesn’t seem to have any felines, but it does have jumping giraffes and camels, which is certainly something to see. The Golden Gate Park Carousel is our favorite because the colors are just…wow! It has a standing lion, standing tiger, and jumping cat.

Our verdict

Standing tiger on the San Francisco Zoo Carousel.
By Daderot (Own work) [Public domain or CC0],
We enjoyed looking through this book, and we were surprised at how many felines there actually are on the carousels of San Francisco. We might as well admit that we enjoyed the photos of other animals too; old SoLT got especially excited over those jumping giraffes. (You should have heard her exclaim, "Holy jumping giraffes!" It was embarrassing.)

You won’t learn a lot about the history or art of carousel animals from Circles of Delight, but you will get to see some pretty stunning examples of carved animals that will make you yearn to jump up on that platform and run to your favorite before someone else gets it.

 A note on the "Paws Up" system: Miss C gives either one or two paws up. One paw is for a good read; two paws is for a great read. She never gives three or four paws because that would require her to lie on her back...and Miss C does not do that!

For more on carousel cats, see Cats onCarousels.