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Cat items

We got our sweet cat Frankie when she was about 1.5 years old. Here are some of the things we found have been really useful for an adult cat.

puppy items

1. Unfortunately, Frankie figured out how to get an unlimited food supply by sticking her paw in this auto feeder about 4 minutes after we got it. But we still use it when we’re away for the night because we’d rather her have too much food than not enough.

2. A friend told us about these sticky paws a couple of months ago, and I only wish we had known about them sooner. They’re basically pieces of giant double-sided tape that you put on the parts of your couch/furniture that your cat likes to scratch in order to keep them away.

3. This cat box is particularly important if you have dogs who like to hunt for smelly kitty treasures.

4. Frankie loves this window perch. One heads-up is that we had to move the window perch, and the sticky side of the velcro took the paint off of the window sill. Thankfully we had to move it because we were about to start construction on the house and that window sill no longer exists, but just in case you want to keep your surfaces intact be aware that it’s a very strong adhesive.

5. This kitty toy was pretty cheap and it has kept Frankie entertained for hours.

Gnome babies

Before my friend Kelsey had even birthed her twin baby girls in June, I asked if I could make their halloween costumes. I mean seriously, what’s more fun than that? Kelsey picked garden gnomes, so I got to it. The project started with some research:

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Then I found McCall’s Pattern M6627 to use as a starting point, made some beard bibs out of terry cloth – bada bing bada boom. Here’s the finished product!

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The cutest, right? What’s even more adorable is that the newborn size costumes were too small for these little peanuts, so Kelsey had to shrink them before Halloween. They still ended up swimming in them though. Better too big than too small I suppose.

I love that in the end they were able to pass for elves, pilgrims, blue leprechauns, gnomes, etc. It’s the costume that keeps on giving. I went as Buddy the Elf for Halloween one year, so I totally feel their pain of people not getting it. I was living in New York City at the time and people still didn’t get my costume. Sigh. But I think that just means I need to put the Buddy costume on and have a photo taken of me holding the babies while they still fit in their gnome costumes. Best random Christmas card I’d ever send, I reckon.

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And my favorite photo – mama Kelsey, chillin with her gnomies.

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Puppy items

Andie was 10 weeks old when we got her. There are a few things that friends have recommended to us or that we had already purchased for Jackson that have seriously come in handy.

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1. This Kong Wobbler has been a life saver. It takes Andie about 15 minutes to get all of the food out of it, which gives us just enough time to load the dishwasher, take a shower, sit in a quiet room, or anything else that’s impossible to do when you’re watching a puppy every second. We use it for her three meals a day.

2. Thankfully we have hardwood floors throughout the house, so cleaning up Andie’s messes has been pretty easy. But a friend of ours who also just got a puppy recommended this Nature’s Miracle spray, and we’ve been happy with it.

3. A plastic crate. Andie sleeps in here (most) nights, and we use it when she’s in the car so she doesn’t chew the seat or anything. We got one that’s too big for her now, but that she’ll grow into eventually. I’ve read that you know you have a big enough crate if your dog can stand up, turn around and stretch out comfortably.

4. Antlers. We actually had a couple of these because of Jackson, but they’re the only thing that keep Andie’s interest, that she doesn’t completely demolish in five minutes. Her puppy teeth are razor sharp and this girl loves to chew. They’re more expensive than the average chew toy, but they last forever. For some reason the one Jackson and Andie both like best is the deer antler fork chew.

5. Kong chew toy. We put peanut butter and dog food in here and freeze it over night. It keeps Andie busy for quite a while.

These are the first five that come to mind, but there are many more obvious things we needed right away that we’ve been using every day since we got her. Lots of old towels (for the bottom of her crate, to wipe her feet, etc), a dog bed, dog shampoo, a collar and a leash.

Meet: Andie

We got this little bundle of fur about a month ago on September 29th. She has been such a great puppy from day one. Don’t get me wrong – the first couple of weeks were a pretty intense adjustment period, but now that we’re in the swing of things, she fits in just great. We had talked about getting a friend for Jackson, thinking that when he was 5 or older would be a good time to do it. But then we realized the main reason we wanted to get a friend for him was to tire him out, and right now at the young age of 2, he’s going to have way more energy than he would at 5. So we started looking at the Seattle Humane Society N.O.A.H., and Pet Finder, just to see what was out there. I filled out applications for a few different dogs, we talked about going to visit one or two at the local shelters, and then I saw the posting for this little peanut and applied to adopt her right away.

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I mean how can you deny her, right? Because she was only 10 weeks old, I assumed she’d be long gone and adopted by the time I sent in my application. It turns out I happened to be the first one to reply. She was being taken care of by a foster mom through Ab Fab Lab Rescue in Houston, Texas and was flown to us on a direct United flight from Houston. This organization only flies their rescue dogs to the Seattle area because the euthanasia rate in Houston is 91%, and hundreds of dogs get killed every day. As far as I understand, there are so many people who can’t pay to spay or neuter their pets, that these poor animals are just roaming the streets without owners. Which is a very different situation than Seattle, where for the most part pets are treated like family members and most of them are spayed or neutered. Andie was very well taken care of on the United flight, and we were very happy with the process for picking her up. Identification was needed, her papers were on her crate, and we were good to go. She was scared of pretty much everything for about a week (understandably so), but now is so excited when she sees people her entire body wags along with her tail. She gets along great with Jackson. They’re already tiring each other out, which was exactly our plan.

Jackson and Andie

Andie is very into playing with our poor sweet cat Frankie, so we’re working with her to make sure she understands that Frankie is not a toy. Frankie is such a good sport though, and even looks for some cuddle time when Andie is all tuckered out. Frankie and Andie

 

Meet: Frankie

Little Frankie was the 2nd addition to our crew. She is, and I dare you to challenge me on this, the best cat. She likes to cuddle, she takes crap from Jackson, she likes to be in whatever room we’re in, and she only weighs 9lbs, so she’s easy to carry around. If Baby Bjorn’s weren’t so expensive I’d get one for her so she could be with us all the time. I know she’d love it.

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This photo was taken when she was still up for adoption, but of course when we saw how good she looked in a zebra print bed, we had to get one for her very own.

We had talked about getting a kitten before we got Jackson, and then of course stopped talking about it when we did in fact adopt Jackson. Fast forward to April 2012, 6 months after we got Jackson, and my sister in law convinced me to walk to the local Petco to see what rescue kittens they had to offer. (The Petco by us has cats from Motley Zoo Animal Rescue.)  Frankie was about 1.5 years old when I met her, and she had already had a litter of kittens who were 7 months old. I tell ya, kids having kids, eh? Her son Donut was available to adopt, but after holding Frankie for all of 3 minutes I knew I had to apply to adopt her. She was so cuddly and calm, and didn’t move a muscle when a dog walked by her. I went home to fill out the application and we were able to take her home a few days later.

We had a baby gate up between her and Jackson for a few days until they got used to each other, and now they’re completely fine. Jackson says good morning by licking her head every day when he wakes up, and Frankie just stands there and takes it. They are the perfect duo. Milo and Otis, the later years.

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Meet: Jackson.

Steve and I had been casually looking for a dog on all the local Seattle rescue websites for about 6 months when we came across Jackson at the Seattle Humane Society. I left work for an early lunch in October 2012 so I could be there when they opened at 11am. I was the first one in line to see him, and when I left there was someone else waiting to adopt Jackson, who was pretty bummed I beat him there. Thankfully I was able to place a 24 hour hold on him, and then we took him home the next day. (Side note: If you’re looking to adopt a dog from a nearby shelter, and you just know it’s the right dog, I would highly recommend getting there a few minutes before they open to make sure you get to meet the dog first. If you’re looking to adopt a dog through an online rescue organization, I would also recommend applying as soon as you know it’s the right dog for you. Puppies especially get tons of interest, so you want to be the first application the organization sees. But remember to always keep in mind that if it’s the dog you’re meant to call your own, it will happen.)

When we got Jackson he looked like this:

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He had chunks of fur missing all over his body, he had a floppy right ear, he had a tick above his right eye, and he was terrified to go up our stairs. In sum, he was a mess. Considering the fact that he was adopted as a puppy, given to the Yakima Humane Society where he was called “Buddy”, then sent to the Seattle Humane Society where he was called “Kellogg”, all in a short 9 months of life…it’s no wonder he wasn’t looking or feeling awesome. But we got him all bathed up, loved up, and this is what he looks like now:

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I’m not just saying this because he’s my dog, but I swear to you, he is the best looking dog I’ve ever seen. We get stopped on walks, on runs, in the car, etc. Everyone wants to know what kind of dog he is because he’s so unique looking. When we adopted him, we actually thought he was a Malamute-Australian Shepherd mix. Then we realized right away he had to be a Malamute-German Shepherd mix because of his coloring. We splurged on the $60 DNA test (No regrets there. We used Wisdom Panel 2.0 – the report is very in-depth, and it took about a week to find out the results. You can get one here. Look for a coupon code, we were able to save $10.), and found out that he is an Alaskan Malamute, German Shepherd, Pembroke Welsh Corgi and Spinone Italiano Mix. I’m not so sure about the Corgi, but his legs do look short in the right light I suppose.

We’re pretty sure that Jackson was never walked on a leash before getting dropped off at the shelter. He is so unbelievably good with other dogs, but when we walk him on a leash he barks a crazy, loud, terrifying bark at every single dog. Stop and think about that – Every. Single. Dog. We. Pass. Other dogs and their owners immediately assume he’s vicious or harmful. And rightfully so, because his bark is intense. We took him through puppy training at the Seattle Humane Society (which comes with the adoption!), we watched hundreds of YouTube videos, and then when I wanted to stop walking him by myself because his constant barking stressed me out so much, we decided it would be worth it to invest in one-on-one training. We enlisted the help of Tommy at Evergreen School for Dogs. Jackson improved a ton on leash, but the best part of Jackson spending time with Tommy is that he became so much more obedient and responsive in general.

After owning Jackson for a year, his one issue is still that he barks at other dogs on leash. It’s the oddest thing because he’s not aggressive at all. If he barks at a dog and then gets close enough to touch it, all he does is sniff. We really can’t explain it, and neither can the trainers who have met him. It has to be something to do with what he experience in his past. He’s good with people, kids, other dogs, puppies and cats, so if I had to choose an issue, it might just be the one he has. I’m not going to lie and tell you that it doesn’t stress me out when it happens, but we’re working through it. After working with Tommy and getting his professional advice, we finally decided that a bark collar would be the best option for our situation. I know a lot of people are against them, and when used improperly they can be seriously damaging to a dog. I would absolutely not recommend using one without consulting a professional. Seriously. Don’t do it. The best advice we got about it was not to get a cheap one. You want one that will do what it’s supposed to, when it’s supposed to. This is the one we ended up getting.

We’ve had it for about 2 months now, and with Jackson’s bark collar on (we don’t even turn it “on” anymore, it’s just around his neck) when on walks or runs, he is a darn near perfect dog. I look at dog training as a constantly evolving thing that you always have to work on, and we definitely don’t get to slack off with a malamute mix. This boy is smart. But we work with him every day and he has improved beyond belief from when we first met him. He has made our every day life so much better, and I honestly can’t imagine watching a movie without him sleeping on my feet, or going on a run without him.

To conclude this lengthy post, I have to say that if you’ve been thinking about adopting a dog, just do it. Don’t think it will be easy or will come without challenges, but do it anyway. Pet Finder is a great place to start when looking for a dog to save.

Holiday Gift Guide for Her

Gift guide on November 12th? Why not. I tend to find myself in the situation around the holidays where I’m buying gifts at the last minute. This year I thought I’d start early so I can buy more of “the perfect gift” for someone, rather than buying something just to buy it.

1. I like you by Amy Sedaris. It’s a hilarious coffee table book (picture: Amy Sedaris wearing pantyhose and covered in sprinkles), but also has some legit recipes. (The meatball recipe is insane.)

2. Erasable pens. I swear to you, these have changed my professional life. No. More. Whiteout. I use them at work to take notes, sketch, write things in my calendar, etc. They are nothing like those lame “erasable pens” from the 90′s that actually just rubbed the ink further into the paper. (The commercial would have you thinking otherwise though.)

3. Pride and Prejudice. Jane Austen happens to be my all time favorite author, but you can pick from various cloth-bound Penguin Classics.

4. A sewing machine! Get your special lady friend a sewing machine! (A great follow up gift would be some sewing lessons if she’s a beginner.) This one happens to be an inexpensive Brother sewing machine, but I would recommend Singer or Pfaff as well. If you’re a beginner, you don’t need to spend more than $200 – and make sure to pay attention to the reviews.

5. A cute umbrella. You never know when you’re going to need one, especially in Seattle, so you may as well cover yourself head in style.

6. Hunter rain boots. I actually own this pair and love them. They’re water proof, but have a retro vibe that strangers literally stop to ask me about.

7. Emergency car kit. I think everyone should have one of these in their car. You just never know, you know?

8. A magazine subscription. Other than Vogue and Lucky, I get the most excited when Real Simple arrives. Decorating ideas, recipes and pretty pictures. How can you go wrong?

9. Every woman should own a pair of cashmere socks, but few would buy them for herself.

Quinoa

I recently made some vegetable quinoa that has turned out to be one of our go-to meals. It is really tasty, quick to make, and is very healthy and hearty – perfect for these cold, dark Fall nights. I got inspiration for the recipe from Mollie Katzen’s Vegetable Heaven cookbook, but adapted it to use whatever we had around the house.

Side note: for the record – we did not choose the pink window trim in the photo below. Judge me for other things, but not for that.

 

Thanksgiving Plasticware Holders

While perusing Pinterest the night before our first annual Friends Thanksgiving, I came across this idea for some subtle (and useful) table decor. It took me all of 30 minutes, and I was able to use supplies I had around the house. A huge win if you ask me.

I decided to go with white velum because it wouldn’t conflict with the colorful turkey table cloths, and because it’s something I already had. I chose the font I wanted and printed 15 sheets of paper with “Be Thankful” x2 on each one (for a total of 30 guests). (Click here to see/print the jpg I created.) I cut each sheet in half vertically, then folded each of those sheets in half. When I sewed the sides up at 1/4″, I didn’t take the time to cut after each one, but waited until the end to save a few minutes.

Table cloth and napkins purchased from Joann Fabric and Crafts.

Friends Thanksgiving

Our basement is unfinished. When we first moved in I would sprint from the stairs to the washer/dryer and sprint back again in case it was haunted or the furnace started talking to me a la Home Alone. In a nutshell, it was creepy. We’ve moved some things around and made it as un-creepy as possible while still being an unfinished basement. (For the record, I can say with confidence that it’s not haunted. Phew.) It’s sad that it’s mostly unused space down there, but finishing a basement costs a lot of dollars. It will happen eventually, but for right now we’ll just have take up rollerblading or take advantage of the darkness and learn to cure meat, as my brother suggested. The good news is that I had a genius idea recently, probably one of my best, to host a Friends Thanksgiving. The basement ended up being perfect because there was more than enough space, and if anything spilled it didn’t matter.

This is the basement before we moved in. Eek.

This is what it looks like as a magical Fall wonderland.

I mean it’s soooort of like putting lipstick on a pig since the walls are still yellow, and the cement floors are still exposed, but it’s a vast improvement if you ask me. And those twinkle lights are definitely staying up until we remodel the whole thing.

“Be Thankful” plasticware holder idea taken from here (tutorial on them tomorrow).

Candles, napkins and table cloths purchased from Joann Fabric & Crafts (40% off, with an additional 25% off my entire purchase! Love that place.).

Old Fashioned Recipe taken from here.

Jackson, my second favorite guy in the whole world after 9 days of owning him (Steve’s #1, obvi.), gets MVP for the night. With 30 people in the house, food everywhere, kids running around, he was calm the entire time. Steve and I had no idea what to expect, but we know now that we got really lucky to adopt such a great dog. In the photo below he’s staring intently at everyone’s plates in the garbage. He knew he wanted to get in there, but also knew he wasn’t allowed. that’sagoodboyyesitisthat’sagoodboy.