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. She receives creative input from the Real Cats and clerical assistance from She of Little Talent (old SoLT, a.k.a. Roby Sweet). Comments or complaints should be addressed to Miss C rather than to old SoLt (Ms. Sweet). Ms. Sweet accepts no responsibility for Miss C's opinions.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Sunday Selfie: Paisley Contemplates the Year Gone By

For this week's Sunday Selfie, old SoLT caught Real Cat Paisley looking thoughtful. We like to think she was contemplating all she accomplished in 2017:

Real Cat Paisley thoughtful selfie_31 Dec 17

Have a safe and happy New Year's Eve, everyone!

We're joining the Sunday Selfies blog hop, hosted by The Cat on My Head.

Sunday Selfies blog hop, The Cat on My Head

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Caturday Art: Webster Loves His Christmas Present!

For this week's Caturday art, we used a picture of Real Cat Webster enjoying his Christmas present. It is a blankie/mat that has an opening for catnip. He loves it! (And in case you've been paying attention, yes this is the same present he found and tried to open a few weeks ago.)

This first picture was done in LunaPic, with the Fur filter, which we dialed down to 20% to keep the original colors. Old SoLT added the background in Photoshop:

Webster on his new kitty mat_Fur 20 percent #LunaPic

And of course we had to try Dreamscope too. This is the Monet V filter. We love the colors, but we're not so pleased that you can't really see the cute blankie anymore. Again, the background is from Photoshop:

Webster on his kitty mat_Monet V #Dreamscope

And here's the original:

Webster on his kitty mat_original

We're joining Athena and Marie in their Caturday Art blog hop!

Caturday Art blog hop

Friday, December 29, 2017

Words with Webster: Tail, Plus Friendly Fill-Ins

We have two fun Friday features for you today. First up is Real Cat Webster, who has an appropriate year-ending word to share. After that, it’s on to Friendly Fill-Ins!

Words with Webster

Words with Webster
Hi, everybody! It’s me, Real Cat Webster. Welcome to Words with Me. Today’s word is “tail.” This is a word that is familiar to most of us cats. I bet you might be surprised at how old this word is though. We’ll get to that in a second, but first, of course I started by going to my favorite dictionary, Merriam-Webster’s, which said a tail is
the part of the vertebrate body posterior to the portion containing the body cavity:  (1) :  a rather slender more or less elongated process that arises from the trunk of many mammals immediately above the anus, contains the caudal vertebrae, and is often variously modified as a support, a balancer, or a grasping organ.
Hmm.… Sometimes I think I need an easier dictionary. Or maybe a tail is just more complicated than I thought it would be. Anyway, next I went to the Oxford English Dictionary, where I learned that “tail” appeared in print in English around AD 800. That means it’s over 1,200 years old, which makes it one of the oldest words I’ve ever done. This is the first quote I found for “tail”:
Oxan tægl bið scill[inges] weorð. (Laws of Ine c. 59)
I don’t really know what that means, so if you know, could you please tell me? I thought I should find a more, um, intelligible quote, so I picked this one from about 1727:
The Tayl of the South Fish [constellation]. (Isaac Newton, Chronol. Anc. Kingdoms Amended, i. 83)  
I hopped over to the Online Etymology Dictionary and learned that “tail” comes from Old English “tægl,” or “tægel” (as you can see from that first quote up above). That comes from Proto-Germanic “tagla-” and Old Norse “tagl.” In Germanic, the word seems to have meant “hairy tail” or “tuft of hair.”

So think about that next time you twitch your tail!

Cat tail, photo via Adobe Stock
Photo via Adobe Stock.

Friendly Fill-Ins

Friendly Fill-Ins
And now it’s time 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 this week, 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. On New Year's Eve, I will go to bed at my regular time (8:30), read until I start to fall asleep (around 9:00), and then turn on a podcast to listen to until I actually do fall asleep (around 9:15).

2. One goal I have for 2018 is to start getting out to go birdwatching again. This is something I basically stopped doing because I have gotten so busy with working and blogging, but I miss the birds!

Real Cat Paisley’s answers:
3. In 2017, I accomplished exactly everything I wanted to. I napped a lot. I scared the dog many, many times. I played with Mommy’s feet. I jumped on Mommy’s keyboard frequently while she was using it. I ate lots of treats. It has been a full year!

4. I was a very good kitty in 2017. Mommy said so!

Real Cat Paisley in her recovery gown

Thursday, December 28, 2017

The Year in Our Rearview: 2017

Is this year almost over already? Seems like just yesterday we were making big plans for things to do in 2017, and now we’ve only got a couple of days left. (So, old SoLT, you’d better get on that treadmill and start running if you really want to exercise more this year!) Well, even though we didn’t quite get everything done, we have still accomplished quite a lot here at The Cuddlywumps Cat Chronicles:
  • We expect to end the year with over 300 posts published.
  • We updated our header to include the Real Cats.
  • We made some great new friends.
  • We reviewed 40 books.
  • We went to our first BlogPaws conference (the first of many, we hope!).
  • We created new graphics for most of our regular features.
  • We started two new features: Cat Classics on Film and Cat Travel. (Okay, technically Cat Classics on Film started in 2016, but it really got going in 2017.)
  • Real Cat Webster got really serious about his Words with Webster feature. He did 27 words this year.
  • Real Cat Paisley observed a partial solar eclipse.
  • Real Cat Webster ate some things (see collage below).
  • We did Secret Paws for the first time and had so much fun!
  • And of course, I appeared in the fifth book of the Miss Cuddlywumps Investigates series.

Do you remember these moments from the Cuddlywumps Cat Chronicles in 2017?
A few of our favorite moments in 2017.
Note how often Real Cat Webster has his mouth open!

Cuddlywumps Cat Chronicles feature buttons

We have had fun looking back at some of our favorite moments of 2017, but you know what happens if you spend too much time looking in your rearview mirror? You crash. So now let’s look forward to 2018 and take a look at some things we have planned!

In 2018, we want to
  • Finish making graphics for all our feature categories.
  • Start a new feature called Cat Classics in Print, where we’ll look back at some great cat books from years past.
  • Do more interviews. This is down to old SoLT finding people and cats to interview and then setting it up. It’s not hard, old SoLT!
  • Create an actual strategy for our social media. This would replace our current strategy, which is basically, “OMC, we haven’t posted anything to [insert here: Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook] this week!”
  • Grow our readership.

 And speaking of readers, we’d like to thank all of you for spending parts of 2017 with us. Thank you for taking the time to read these little things we write. Thank you for your kind and thoughtful comments. Thank you, thank you, thank you! We look forward to sharing more with you in 2018!

Thanks! graphic

Monday, December 25, 2017

Merry Christmas!

A very merry Christmas, from all of us to all of you! 

Love, Miss C, Real Cats Paisley & Webster, and old SoLT.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Caturday Art: Paisley's Tree

Today we have two very different versions of our Caturday Art featuring Paisley under the Christmas tree. This first one old SoLt calls "Double Frost" because she used the Frost filters in both LunaPic and PicMonkey. She also added photo corners in PicMonkey:

Real Cat Paisley under Christmas tree 2017_Double Frost

And now we step into a completely different era with this version featuring the Graphique filter from Dreamscope (took less than 5 minutes to finish!). Again, the frame is from PicMonkey:

Real Cat Paisley under Christmas tree 2017_Graphique filter

And here's the original:

Real Cat Paisley under Christmas tree 2017

We're joining the Caturday Art blog hop, hosted by Athena and Marie!

Caturday art blog hop

And, since we were without Internet for a whole day and did not get any selfies ready, we are also entering Paisley's picture in the Sunday Selfies Blog Hop, hosted by The Cat on My Head!

Sunday Selfies Blog Hop

Friday, December 22, 2017

It's Old SoLT's Birthday! Plus Friendly Fill-Ins

We are taking sort of a break today to let old SoLT relax and enjoy her birthday. She hits the big 4-9 today, and that number is making her feel tired (just wait till next year!). We didn't get her anything, because she already has us, so what more could she possibly want? We did bake her this cake though:
It's old SoLT's birthday, so Miss C and the Real Cats created this great cake. Happy birthday!

Friendly Fill-Ins
And we told her we'd take care of Friendly Fill-Ins. So here goes. Paisley answered the first two questions, which are from Ellen of 15andmeowing, and Webster answered the next two, from Annie of McGuffy’s Reader.

Paisley's answers:

1. I can't wait to see anyone open my gift to him/her. Since I didn't actually get anything for anyone, it will be interesting if they find something from me!

2. I have had the same family for 12 years. It is a pretty nice family, except for the dog, who I wish would move next door or something.

Webster's answers:

3. I would not mind if Santa were to bring me a whole big box of treats. I really like treats!

4. On Christmas Eve, I always keep track of Santa through the NORAD Santa Tracker. That helps me know when I should go to bed.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Our 5 Favorite Cat Cozy Mysteries of 2017

Mysterious Monday

This post contains affiliate links. And yes, we know it's not Monday, but just bear with us, because we don't have a graphic for "Mysterious Wednesday."

It’s that time of year again … time for us to look back over the books we’ve reviewed this year and choose our five favorites. “Our 5 Favorites” is always one of the most fun posts we write all year (we do enjoy taking time to remember the excellent books we’ve read), and also one of the most difficult (how can we choose just five favorites?). We want to be clear that there are many cat cozy mysteries that we did not even get a chance to read. So the following list is pulled only from the books we actually read. Each of the books we've chosen is well written, with fascinating characters, a great setting, a perplexing mystery, and of course, a terrific cat. 

And now, in no particular order, here are our five favorites. We highly recommend that you give these a try if you haven’t already!

Body on Baker Street, by Vicki Delany (Sherlock Holmes Bookshop series)

Sherlock Holmes Bookshop owner Gemma Doyle gets pulled into another mystery when a best-selling author drops dead in the store and the main suspect asks Gemma to help clear his name. The cat is a black fellow named Moriarty who likes practically everyone he meets--except Gemma. Read our review!

Get it on Amazon:

Murder Go Round, by Carol J. Perry (Witch City series)

In Salem, Massachusetts, Lee Barrett wins an abandoned storage locker in an auction, and the contents of it—an old carousel horse, a samovar, and a cuckoo clock—seem to have something to do with a murder. The cat is O’Ryan, a yellow-striped fellow who helps with the mystery by providing clues. Read our review!

Get it on Amazon:

Haunted Is Always in Fashion, by Rose Pressey (Haunted Vintage series)

Vintage-fashion expert Cookie Chanel solves a murder with the help of the victim’s ghost and Wind Song, a cat who uses a Ouija board to communicate. Read our review!

Get it on Amazon:

Cat Got Your Secrets, by Julie Chase (Kitty Couture series)

New Orleans pet boutique owner Lacy Crocker tries to clear her father of suspicion of murder. This is such a fun series! The main cat is named Penny; she rides around the boutique on a Roomba. Read our review!

Get it on Amazon:

Familiar Motives, by Delia James (Witch’s Cat series)

Annabelle Britton is an apprentice witch in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, who gets caught up in solving the murder of a local vet and the disappearance of a celebrity cat. The main cat is Alistair, Anna’s familiar, who is integral to the plot. Also, he can vanish into thin air. Read our review

Get it on Amazon:

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Secret Paws Unboxing Party

The Real Cats were so excited last week when their Secret Paws package arrived! It came all the way from Montana, and it’s from the Farm Cats—Stinky, Pumpkin, Harry, and Sherpa—and their person, Patty. We never met them before, so we were pretty excited to learn about them. They live on a farm (obviously), and their house is a yurt, which old SoLT thinks is just so neat. She used to dream of living in a yurt on a farm. You can find Patty and the Farm Cats blogging at Broken Teepee.

On to the presents! As you can see, Real Cat Webster was interested in the box right away.

Real Cat Webster is excited to open the Secret Paws package

 Real Cat Paisley didn’t really get interested until the box got opened up. It was really packed with goodies!

Real Cat Paisley inspects the contents of the Secret Paws package

Amid all the excitement, Webster took a moment to pose with the card Patty and the cats sent, as well as these really cool feathers.

Real Cat Webster with the feathers & card from Patty and the Farm Cats

Then they got all the presents out. Old SoLT wanted to take a nice picture of all the wrapped presents together, but Paisley couldn’t wait. As you can see, Webster was a perfect gentleman.

Real Cats Paisley & Webster check out their Secret Paws presents

One of the presents was a package of little mouses. The unboxing had to stop for a moment so each cat could get a mouse and play with it. Paisley ran away with hers!

And then came the catnip kickers, which smelled so alluring and were really pretty. Everything had to stop again while the cats got acquainted with their kickers. There was even a small, um, disagreement over who was going to play with which kicker, but old SoLT failed to get that on film. It’s not really Christmas until there’s a fight over presents, we guess.

Did you see that big tub of Temptations? The Real Cats are very happy to have that!

Old SoLT got presents too. She got two handmade goat’s milk soaps from Happy Goats Soap. The cat is cucumber-melon scented, and the mouse is carnation scented. This is perfect, because she loves a good soap, and she’s already using the mouse soap in her bathroom.

Happy Goats Soap--cat, cucumber-melon scented

Happy Goats Soap--mouse, carnation scented

Many, many thanks to Patty and the Farm Cats for the wonderful presents—they are just perfect! And we’d like to thank Mom Paula of Sweet Purrfections for doing the hard work of organizing Secret Paws. This is our first Secret Paws, and we’ve had so much fun we can hardly wait until next year!

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Cat of the Week: Stacee in Baltimore

Cat of the Week

Each week in this space, we feature an older adult or senior cat (7 years +) in need of adoption or sponsorship. Mature cats make great companions, and unlike kittens, they (probably) won’t climb the curtains! Adopt an older cat, and help them enjoy the best years of their life.

Adopt Stacee, Baltimore Humane Society #adoptablecats #blackcats #adoptdontshop #baltimorehumane

Today, please meet Stacee. She is an 8-year-old lady with a sense of adventure. Stacee enjoys getting up on tables and windowsills to check out what’s going on. (We think she must be an “up high” kitty, so she’d probably love a nice cat tree!) Stacee also loves getting attention and some nice rubs. She was in a foster home for a little while, where she lived with a dog and other cats. She sounds like she’s loads of fun and full of personality!

Stacee is currently at Charm Kitty Café in Baltimore, MD. Learn more about her 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, December 18, 2017

Book Review: Jamie Quinn Mystery Collection

Mysterious Monday

On this Mysterious Monday, we bring you a review of three books in one: it’s the Jamie Quinn Mystery Collection, by Barbara Venkataraman. The collection includes the first three books in the series: Death by Digeridoo, The Case of the Killer Divorce, and Peril in the Park, all set in Hollywood, Florida, and featuring family lawyer Jamie Quinn and her favorite private investigator, Duke. And of course there is a cat, whom we’ll tell you about a little later.

Death by Digeridoo

Jamie Quinn Mystery Collection, by Barbara Venkataraman
In this installment, Jamie’s cousin, Adam, is accused of murdering a former rock star named Spike with—you guessed it—a digeridoo. Adam has Asperger’s syndrome, making the ensuing investigation a little more difficult. Jamie gets drawn into the investigation because, even though she doesn’t practice criminal law, Adam obviously needs a lawyer immediately. Fortunately Jamie has a best friend, Grace, who’s also a lawyer and gives great advice. And she knows a PI, Duke, who can help investigate. Now the question is, which of Spike’s associates would hate him enough to kill him, and how will Jamie protect Adam long enough for her to find the answers?

 The Case of the Killer Divorce

Since she practices family law, Jamie often works with clients seeking a divorce. In this installment, her client, Becca, is going through a divorce and custody battle, when her husband suddenly dies. And unfortunately for Becca, she had told her husband she’d kill him if he tried to take the kids. Also, it looks like it was her sleeping pills that did him in. Can you say, “Suspect number one”? Again, Jamie investigates, but she does have to wonder if Becca might just be guilty after all. This story also introduces Kip Simons, Jamie’s high school heartthrob, who’s back in town and is very interested in her. But will he stay interested once he finds out Jamie’s not into lots of outdoor adventures?

Peril in the Park

The third story brings Jamie’s new boyfriend, Kip, firmly into the picture. Kip’s new job puts him in charge of all the county parks—and in the middle of a lot of discord in the parks department. A lot of people are angry at him, the parks are being vandalized, and then someone calling themselves ICU sends Jamie a threatening email with pictures of her and Kip, meaning they are being followed. Kip is also acting kind of weird, so that Jamie knows he’s keeping some things from her—it’s all just “work stuff” that he can’t talk about, he says. Things ramp up when a murder occurs at a Renaissance festival … and then when Kip disappears, well, it sure looks like someone is trying to get him out of the way.

The cat

The cat in this series is a kind of cranky 12-pound gentleman named Mr. Paws. He was Jamie’s mother’s cat, and Jamie took over his care and feeding after her mother died. At first, Jamie and Mr. Paws do not like each other. So much so that Jamie temporarily changes his name to Mr. Pain in the Ass. When her mother was alive and Jamie would visit, Mr. Paws would hiss at her—and Jamie hissed back. We're happy to say that this relationship evolves through the series. In Killer Divorce, Mr. Paws starts purring and crawling into bed with Jamie. And in Peril in the Park, he becomes her dependable companion when she’s home. He’s still cranky though!

Our verdict

We liked each of these stories a lot, and we enjoyed Jamie and her friends. Duke and Grace are both fun characters, as is Jamie herself. She is so relatable, and she seems like she’d be a great person to hang out with. Our favorite of the stories was Peril in the Park, because we found it the most suspenseful of the three, but each story is a good, quick read with fun twists, humor, and mystery. One thing I did not mention yet is the ongoing story of Jamie’s attempts to locate her long-lost father. This thread was actually one of our favorite things about the series as we hoped for things to work out for Jamie to first find her father and then be reunited with him. We did wish for more cat, as Mr. Paws makes only occasional appearances and isn’t important to the plot. I do have to withhold one paw because of that (we are a cat-centric blog, after all), but we still would recommend Jamie Quinn to any reader looking for a light-reading, quick-paced cozy mystery filled with some pretty great human characters!

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. Thank you!

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Sunday Selfie: Webster Gets Bored

This week, old SoLT was trying to help Real Cat Webster take his Sunday Selfie, but she took so long about it, he got really bored and did this:

Real Cat Webster yawns

We're joining the Sunday Selfies blog hop, hosted by The Cat on My Head.

Sunday Selfies blog hop

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Caturday Art: Christmas Needlework Kitties

For this week's Caturday Art, old SoLT borrowed an idea from our friends at Sweet Purrfections. She took a summery photo and made it Christmasy by using the Christmas Needlework effect from LunaPic. Then she put it on a green background and added the ribbony bits in Photoshop.

The Real Cats on the cat tree, Christmas needlepoint effect

We're joining Athena's Caturday Art blog hop!

Caturday Art blog hop

Friday, December 15, 2017

Words with Webster: Fur, Plus Friendly Fill-Ins

We have two fun Friday features for you today. First up is Real Cat Webster, who has a fuzzy word to share. After that, it’s on to Friendly Fill-Ins!

Words with WebsterWords with Webster

Hi, everybody! It’s me, Real Cat Webster. Welcome to Words with Me. Today’s word is “fur.” I picked this word because it got really cold at our house this week, and boy was I glad for my fur coat! So of course, first I went to my favorite dictionary, Merriam-Webster’s, which said that fur is “the fine soft thick hairy covering or coat of a mammal usually consisting of a double coating of hair that includes a layer of comparatively short soft curly barbed hairs next to the skin protected by longer smoother stiffer hairs that grow up through these.” That sounded a little more complicated than I was expecting, but I guess fur is not as simple as I thought.

Anyway, next I went to the Oxford English Dictionary, which defined fur like this: “The short, fine, soft hair of certain animals (as the sable, ermine, beaver, otter, bear, etc.) growing thick upon the skin, and distinguished from the ordinary hair, which is longer and coarser.” In this sense, “fur” has been in use since about 1430, when it showed up in a poem by John Lydgate:

The shepe…berythe furres blake and whyte. (“Horse, Goose & Sheep,” in Polit. Relig. & Love Poems)

I even found a 1608 Shakespeare quote for “fur”:

This night wherin…The Lyon, and the belly-pinched Wolfe Keepe their furre dry. (King Lear viii. 13)

According to the Online Etymology Dictionary, the word “fur” apparently came from the Old French forrer, meaning “to line, envelop, encase.” The word seems to have first appeared in English around 1300 as a verb that meant to line a garment (with fur). The Etymology Dictionary traces the word back through Proto-Germanic fodram (“sheath”) to the Proto-Indo-European root pa- (“to feed, protect”). And that might be from about 5,500 years ago.

That is a long journey for one little word!

An orange tabby cat's fur_Adobe Stock

Friendly Fill-Ins

Friendly Fill-InsAnd now it’s time 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 Real Cat Paisley this week, are from Ellen of 15andmeowing, and the next two, answered by old SoLT, are from Annie of McGuffy’s Reader.

Real Cat Paisley’s answers:
1. Snow is pretty, but it makes all the people in my house complain a lot. They should be like me and just take a nap with it snows.

2. I hope Mommy’s getting me something great for Christmas, because I certainly deserve it!

Old SoLT’s answers:
3. One holiday memory that I cherish is running downstairs early one Christmas morning (extremely early—I think it was just barely past midnight) and finding my very first bicycle next to the tree. So of course I jumped right on it (not knowing how to ride yet) and immediately fell over into the tree. Still not sure how I managed to not knock the tree down!

4. I always thought that Santa was totally magical. How else could he get in and out of all those houses without getting caught?