Tuesday, December 31, 2013

5 Defining Moments of 2013

Some years are more memorable than others, and that is certainly the case with 2013 for me. It brought illness and death to my home, as well as new beginnings and a renewed focus for the future. 

The Bad
* Losing Tara. What more can I say about losing my brave, perfect little fur baby. Knowing the end was coming for many months did nothing to lessen the pain when that awful day came, and now almost six months later her loss is as raw to me as it was that first morning I woke up to life without her. To try and put a positive spin on things, she showed me that I have a strength in me that I never knew I had and because of her I made the decision to finally pursue my cat writing aspirations.

My Parents' Health. Watching your parents age sucks. In March my father had a mini-stroke. Over the past 20 years he's had 3 heart attacks, but for some reason a stroke just seemed so much scarier. It brings to mind debilitating side-effects and a lifestyle forever altered. Thankfully he recognized the signs and sought help immediately, and he was left with no lasting impacts. My mom, who for most of her adult life has struggled with scoliosis (curvature of the spine), exacerbated by a car accident 15 years ago, continues to worsen. Everyday is more of a painful struggle to get around, and I find myself wondering more than ever how much longer until she's confined to a wheelchair. I know that aging is a natural part of life, but watching the ones you love hurt is just so hard.

The Good

Adopting Truffles. She's an awfully little girl to be assigned the task of mending a broken heart, but she has stepped up to the plate and performed flawlessly. Not a day goes by that she doesn't bring a smile to my face and joy to my heart. I pray that we have many, many happy years together.

The Redefining of a Blog. When I started blogging a little over two years ago, it's purpose was to be an online version of my book journal so that I could share my love of reading with others and hopefully introduce new readers to some of my favorite books. Of course I talked about Tara now and then, but cats weren't a focus. Then she got sick and I found that writing about her became therapeutic for me. Earlier this year I joined the BlogPaws Community and a whole new world opened up. I discovered that many, many people feel the way that I do about their pets...they are pet parents. The purpose of blogging is to write about our passions, the things that drive us, and for me life has always been about cats and books. I couldn't live without either one. I couldn't be happier that in some ways Truffles is "taking over" the blog. Blogging with her and about her makes me so, so happy.

In joining the BlogPaws Pet Blogger Network we're receiving amazing opportunities to work with pet brands and earn some money while blogging. I will always write about the books I love so much (especially cozy mysteries), but Mochas, Mysteries and More's primary focus now is pets, primarily cats. I only wish I had the foresight to name the blog Mochas, Mysteries and Meows!!!

Massive thanks go to Debbie at Glogirly Design for the incredible blog makeover she did for me back in February. She has become such an inspiration to me and an extra-special blogging friend.

Becoming a Member of the Cat Writers' Association. As I said in my original blog post, this was quite simply a dream come true. I've always dreamed of being a (preferably cat) writer one day, and it took me quite awhile to realize that by blogging I am writing! I may never be able to make a full-time income on my writing, but isn't the purpose of a New Year to look forward to a fresh start and realize that anything is possible?

What was 2013 like for you? Will you remember it for something extraordinary or will it fade into obscurity?

Monday, December 30, 2013

Chewy.com Product Review: Natural Balance Holiday Pack

Hey everybody, it's Truffles! I have some exciting news today...Mommy signed me up to be a member of Chewy.com's Blogger Outreach Network. Each month I'll get an email from Chewy.com that lets us pet bloggers know what items are available for review that month, and I get to pick one to taste test and tell you about! This month we chose the Natural Balance Holiday Pack because it looked so festive!

The gift box contained a bag of Perfect Bites cat treats, a can of ultra premium Turkey and Giblets food, and a pouch of their Turkey Platefulls. Mommy thought I would go right for the treats because I'm such a treat junkie. (We got the salmon formula, and they also come in rabbit and chicken. Would you believe one of the ingredients is maple syrup??? As Vermonters we found that very cool!) I was anxious to dig into the treats...

but I was even crazier about the turkey and giblets canned food. I couldn't even wait for Mommy to put it in my dish!!! I haven't had a chance to try the pouch yet but I can't wait to. I'm so happy we received the turkey because it's my favorite flavor.

Mommy wanted me to tell you that she has been a longtime fan of Natural Balance because of all that they do for animal rescue, plus she just adores Tillman the Skateboarding Dog and Norman the Scooter Dog. She even says that their salmon canned cat formula was always one of Tara's favorite foods. I certainly give their turkey formula four paws up!!!

I can't wait to see what Chewy.com sends me to review next month!!!

Disclosure: We received this product for free from Chewy.com. All opinions are our own.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

2014 Witches & Witchcraft Reading Challenge

2014 Witches & Witchcraft Reading Challenge

Challenge Rules:

* This challenge will run from Jan 1, 2014 – Dec 31, 2014. I will be posting a place to link up a sign-up post (below), reviews and a wrap-up post. (Note: You do not have to review the books to participate, but only those who link up reviews will be entered for the prize)
* Grab the reading challenge button (code & button below) and post this reading challenge on your blog to track your progress. Please include a link back to this sign-up post so others can join the reading challenge too. You do not have to be a book blogger to participate- you could track your progress and post reviews on Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, etc.
* Any full length book that includes a witch as a main character or includes major witchcraft elements counts. They may be fiction or non-fiction. However, they should not be reference books which are not read cover to cover-I will leave this to your discretion.
* Books can be any format (bound, eBook, audio).
* Re-reads and crossovers from other reading challenges are allowed.
* You can list your books in advance or just put them in a wrap-up post. If you list them, feel free to change them as the mood takes you.
* When you sign up in the linky put the direct link to your post about joining the 2014 Witches & Witchcraft Reading Challenge, not just a link to your blog.
* You can move up levels, but no moving down.
* Sign-ups will be open until Dec 15, 2014, so feel free to join at any time throughout the year.
* Have some Witchy Good Fun !!!

The Levels:

Initiate: Read 1 – 5 Witchy Books
Maiden: Read 6 – 10 Witchy Books
Mother: Read 11 – 15 Witchy Books
Crone: Read 16 – 20 Witchy Books

I am going to aim for the Maiden level: Read 6-10 Witchy Books.


Cat's Meow Mailbox #16

Cat's Meow Mailbox is inspired by the great weekly recap book memes (Mailbox MondayWaiting On WednesdayIt’s Monday! What are you reading? and Sunday Post)

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas. I know we did. It was so special celebrating my first Christmas with Truffles. I spoiled her rotten, but she's worth it! Actually, I think I kind of overwhelmed her; she seemed relieved when I left for work on Thursday morning!

Did you receive anything cat or book-related for Christmas? Or did you hit any after Christmas sales? There have been some great Kindle deals this week and I've grabbed quite a few :)

Looking forward to saying goodbye and good riddance to 2013, and hoping for a much better 2014.

Last week on Mochas, Mysteries and More:
 Doubting Abbey Eight Maids a' Missing: 12 Days of Christmas series (A Short Story) Six Geese a' Slaying: 12 Days of Christmas series (A Short Story) Eleven Snipers Sniping: 12 Days of Christmas series (A Short Story) A Street Cat Named Bob: And How He Saved My Life Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World Cabin Fever (Diary of a Wimpy Kid Series #6) Kisses, She Wrote: A Christmas Romance Texas Boardinghouse Brides TrilogyWinter at Death's Hotel: A Novel Mysterious Death of Miss Jane Austen The Cupcake Diaries: Spoonful of Christmas Mouseton Abbey


Saturday, December 28, 2013

Truffles' Whole Paws Taste Test #WholeFoodsPets

I have written this post on behalf of BlogPaws Pet Blogger Network for Whole Foods Market. I am being compensated for helping spread the word about Whole Foods Market's Whole Paws, but Mochas, Mysteries and More only shares information we feel is relevant to our readers.

Earlier this month Truffles and I told you about a gigantic box of pet food that we received from Whole Foods Market's new Whole Paws line. We knew we would be receiving $50 worth of dog and cat food, and we were absolutely stunned by how much pet food that turned out to be! We happily donated the dog food to our local shelter. 

Whole Paws is Whole Foods Market's NEW brand of premium quality products made with real chicken, salmon and other wholesome, nutrient-rich ingredients. Whole Paws contains NO corn or soy, NO animal by-products, NO artificial colors, NO artificial preservatives and NO added sugar, and the new line meets all of Whole Foods Market's strict quality standards. This is the first time a private brand has offered grain free dog and cat food (in both dry and wet varieties), combining grocery store convenience with specialty store quality!

My first impression of the food taking it out of the box is how beautiful the packaging it is. I simply adore the WholePaws® slogan: "Love is a four-legged word"...truer words were never spoken! And the cover models on the boxes and cans are all real pets with their names and ages written right on the labels. Something else I love about the labels...caloric content is listed. I wish that was a requirement for every pet food brand.

So in our original post we left you with a cliffhanger...what did Truffles think of her Whole Paws food? Now I need to tell you straight up that while Truffles is a very good eater, she is also quite particular. When I brought her home four months ago I started her out on a popular commercial brand, which is now pretty much all she will eat. (This is so different from Tara, who was always eager to try new things that I would bring home.) I've been trying to "expand her horizons" a bit and hoped this might do the trick. I opened the beef and chicken pate (since that's a favorite flavor in "her" brand) and:

She ate 2/3 of the can immediately! We haven't tried the shredded salmon and chicken in gravy yet, but the chicken and brown rice kibble has been a HUGE hit. I'm generally not a fan of dry food and only feed it as a supplement to Truffles' main wet food meals, but Whole Paws is grain-free and she absolutely loves it...she even accepts it as a healthy alternative at treat time!

Have you tried any of the Whole Paws varieties yet on your pets? We don't have a Whole Foods Market here in Vermont, so what we received for this review is probably all we'll ever get, but I'm certainly happy that Truffles got a chance to try it out.

WholePaws® is available exclusively at Whole Foods Market locations nationwide.

Check out Whole Paws online:

Friday, December 27, 2013

Christmas at the Gingerbread Cafe Virtual Book Tour: Guest Post/Review/Giveaway

I’ve been feeling merry ever since writing Christmas at the Gingerbread Café. There’s something magical about this time of year, and it’s impossible not to get caught up in the excitement of it all. Santa, decorations, Christmas carols, what’s not to love? Throw in a story situated in a café that specializes in gingerbread recipes, and you’ve got yourself some serious Christmas cravings. I had lots of mouth-watering moments researching the different types of food the Gingerbread café sells, and also the more exotic canapés, my main character Lil makes for the catering side of the business.  

It’s winter in Ashford, and it’s snowing, so Lil keeps her fire stoked up, and the locals come in out of the cold to sit awhile and drink their gingerbread coffee, and catch up on what’s new in the small town. I really connected with these characters, and wanted to visit the café, and sit and shoot the breeze with them. Tricky since they’re fictional. I decided to make Gingerbread coffee, so I’d get a real sense of what it tastes like, and what Lil’s business is all about.  

I can’t imagine anything more heartwarming than snuggling on the lounge with a book, a rug and a steaming mug of this comforting coffee. Like Lil says when she’s baking gingerbread men – The smell alone will transport you back to childhood.   

Here is a Gingerbread coffee recipe to start the Christmas season with. It’s really simple, and a great idea to share with your book club, or after dinner with friends. It’s so festive you’ll be humming Christmas carols before you know it. 

This recipe makes six cups. 

½ cup molasses 
¼ cup brown sugar 
½ teaspoon baking soda 
1 teaspoon ground ginger 
¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon 
6 cups of hot brewed coffee 
1 cup half-and-half cream (I used normal pouring cream) 
1 ½ cups sweetened whipped cream  

  1. In a small bowl, mix together the molasses, brown sugar, baking soda, ginger and cinnamon until well blended. Cover and refrigerate for at least ten minutes. 

  1. Add about a ¼ cup of coffee to each cup, then stir in about a tablespoon of the spice mixture until dissolved. Fill cup to within an inch of top with coffee. Stir in half-and-half cream to taste, then garnish with whipped cream and a light dusting of cloves.  

Please let me know if you give this a try, I’d love to hear from you. Next on the agenda is a pecan pie, made from scratch. It’s one of CeeCee’s most sought after pies at the café, and I’m sure I can hear her demanding I bake one.  

 Christmas at the Gingerbread Café

 Christmas at the Gingerbread Café 

Christmas is the season the Gingerbread Café was made for…but owner Lily couldn’t be feeling less merry if she tried. She’s spent another year dreaming of being whisked away on a sleigh-ride for two, but she’s facing festive season alone – again. And, just to give her another reason to feel anything other than candy-cane perky, a new shop across the road has opened… Not only is it selling baked goods, but the owner, with his seriously charming smile, has every girl in town swooning.  But Lily isn’t about to let her business crumble — the Gingerbread Café is the heart of the community, and she’s going to fight for it! This could be the Christmas that maybe, just maybe, all her dreams – even the someone-to-decorate-the-Christmas-tree-with ones – really do come true! 

Amazon US             Amazon UK

Mochas, Mysteries and More Review: Is there any man better than a gingerbread man? Not in my opinion, although admittedly I am obsessed with the little cookie cuties. That's why I was thrilled to have the chance to read a copy of this novella from the brand new Carina UK imprint. Start with a story of rival cafe owners who create major sparks whenever they are in the same room together, set it at Christmastime in a small New England town, add in a sassy BFF/business partner (CeeCee, who deserves her own story!), top it off with descriptions of decadent baked goods, and you have a recipe for the perfect cozy Christmas confection. Just make sure you're drinking a mug of gingerbread coffee (recipe above) and munching a moist slice of gingerbread cake so you won't have to put the book down in order to make a run to the kitchen!

About the Author:

Rebecca Raisin is a true bibliophile.

This love of books morphed into the desire to write them. She’s been widely published in various short story anthologies, and in fiction magazines, and is now focusing on writing romance. The only downfall about writing about gorgeous men who have brains as well as brawn, is falling in love with them – just as well they’re fictional. Rebecca aims to write characters you can see yourself being friends with. People with big hearts who care about relationships, and most importantly, believe in true love.

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Thursday, December 26, 2013

Boxing Day & A Christmas Wrap-Up

Happy Boxing Day!
 photo 122513181233_zpsc9c7efb6.jpg  photo 122513181020_zps63a61f32.jpg

I had a pawsome first Christmas in my forever home...here's my stocking! 

A Cat's Meow toy! (It took Mommy *forever* to put it together!)

I also got a Crinkle Tunnel...so many toys, so little time!

I'm all Christmas'ed out...until next year!!!

Mommy got a special kitty gift too...a Laurel Burch purse!

It was the bestest Christmas ever! What did you get?

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Our Christmas Message to You: With Love, Melissa & Truffles

Truffles and I wish you a very Merry Christmas...

As we remember Christmases Past...
Tara, Christmas 2011
Life is made up of meetings and partings. That is the way of it. --Kermit, Muppet Christmas Carol

May the peace & beauty of the season live in your hearts all year...

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Truffles LOVES Her Secret Paws!!!

Hey everybody, it's Truffles! This year Mommy and I participated in Secret Paws 2013, a Secret Santa gift exchange for us kitties who have a blog in the Cat Blogosphere! It's a chance to exchange gifts, share the holiday spirit, and get to know other kitties from around the world during the holiday season. Last week I found out who my Secret Paw is...Samantha and Clementine from Life from a Cat's Perspective!!!

Mommy loved that Samantha and Clementine's Mom put my name on the package...I just wanted her to open it!!!

This is what was inside...a stocking loaded with goodies and wrapped prezzies!

Stocking stuffers that included catnip mousies, a laser toy (I needed one! The one Mommy had is busted!), a cool stuffed spider that will be good for my toothies when I chew on it, and crinkle balls!!!

I kicked the stuffing outta this cool mousie with a pink tail!!!

TREATS!!!! I'm a total treat junkie! Temptations and Whisker Lickin's are my favorites, and I hadn't tried these flavors yet!

Mommy and I were sooooo excited to see Boots and Barkley loot...we don't even have a Target around here!

Spirals and crinkle balls!

Action shots...

I'm pooped!!! Thank you so much, Samantha and Clementine! My Secret Paw package was paw-some!

And a note from Mommy Melissa: This has been our first year participating in Secret Paws and it has been THE highlight of our holiday season. We can't thank Paula of Sweet Purrfections enough for organizing it. Truffles absolutely adores her gifts (I won't need to buy her any toys for a long time!) Thank you for the yummy Andes cherry cordials too! On a closing note, Samantha and Clementine recently lost their canine companion Maverick, so I know this is a hard holiday season for their family just as it's a tough one for us following the loss of Tara. (Ironically, the Fancy Feast Appetizers in Truffles' package was a favorite of Tara's.) I just know that Tara and Maverick are watching over us all, and have become friends at the Bridge.

Merry Christmas, we love you!!!