Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Wild Wednesday: Our Four-Legged Kids

This Week in Instagram (Kinda)

Left: We drove down to see the family up by Los Angeles just so Nora could have a Puppy Play Date. On the trip up one of our tires lost half it's tread and the other half was left changing to a spare on the side of the 101. His caption for this photo: "Gas... $50. 2 New tires.... $200... Driving down to La Puente so Nora can stretch out like a stone hippo... PRICELESS"

Right: I picked up the above Pink Elephant Beanie Baby at Walgreens to include with the other half's Memory Box Valentine's Day gift. You may or may not recall that Truffles has an, erm, addiction to these things, which she totes around the house, and 'fetches'. This poor little elephant was a goner from the moment it arrived in her house. There was some pouting on Jeremy's part about how Truffles had 'stolen' his elephant.....But I came home on V-Day to find a second elephant with a card for Truffles. A man who buys a Valentine's gift for your cat, isn't that a keeper? Too precious!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

PetPals: Blogger/Reader Program January Reveal

It's that time of the month again, time for my PetPals reveal! For those just wandering over, or who might have missed the previous months and program explanation, here's a quick breakdown;


You don't have to be a social butterfly (though those who are welcome too), or even own a blog, to connect with unique and exciting pets (and owners) just like you! The process is easy, here's a simple breakdown for you- if it all sounds good, fill out the simple form below, and wait to be matched up on the 18th!

-On the 18th of the month, you will receive your PetPal pairing via email. It will be your responsibility to contact your PetPal and get their mailing information, as well as their pet's information (breed, preferences, size, etc). When your PetPal match contacts you, be sure to send a picture of your pet, with your mailing information, so they can see who they'll be shopping for! 

-You will have until the 28th of the month to put your box of goodies in the mail. On the 15th of the following month, you will post about the goodies you received from your PetPal!

-The boxes are to be filled with fun pet toys, accessories, or snacks! Please be mindful (you may be matched with a cat OR a dog) of pet size/dietary restrictions, etc. The spending limit is $15. The box must also include something written. This can be anything from a note explaining what’s in the box, to a short story about your own pet.

-You are responsible for figuring out the best way to ship your items depending on their size and how fragile they are. (Don’t forget about flat rate boxes!)

-PetPals is open to blog readers as well as bloggers. If you’re a reader and you get paired with a blogger, you can choose to write a short guest post for your PetPal to post on their blog about what you received, or possibly share your box on Facebook (or other social media platforms).

- PetPals is currently only open to US residents. Please note, I am collecting a list of international and non cat/dog owners to gauge interest. If I receive enough matches I will open an international/rodent/reptile division.
While you'll find a complete guide to common questions and concerns on last month's post here, you can also read full guidelines at the sign up top, atop this blog. I'll briefly cover some of the bigger questions. In general, if your partner does not follow through there is nothing I can do. However, most people who flake do so by not responding to initial contact at all, which means you might have to sit out the month, but will not be sending to someone who has not sent to you. I make every effort to match people with flaked partners to new partners; this includes often keeping myself on reserve to buddy up with any forgotten PetPals, but sometimes the numbers just don't work out and I cannot find a second PetPal for you. If you're just plain wondering why us PetPals participate, I see it as quite simple. There are a dozen pet subscription programs out there ranging $15-$35/month. This is a free penpal service that offers the personal connection of meeting other pet owners, and their pets, with an honest hand picked selection of treats and toys. It's not some corporate bigwig trying to hook you on new products, these are products real pet lovers use and have tailor picked for your pet! And those concerned about shipping costs....In most cases, so long as you're not sending canned food, boxes can be quite lightweight and cost $3-$7 to ship. Just remember that 'flat rate; is not always the cheapest route to go for parcels under 1lb!
This month I was matched with Constance and her two furries Spike and Jelly (both cats). While I sometimes get a dog owner parent, it's usually a treat when I am matched with a pet owner shopping for the same type of animal. Nothing proves this more than the spot on assortment of toys and treats Constance put together for us. From the moment I popped open the small Priority box I knew we were about to be spoiled. Because each month's care package must contain a written element, Constance had sent an adorable greeting card with some notes about her and her family. I had a good chuckle at the card, which has made it's way to our cork board, and was soon fighting off Truffles, who had heard the sound of her absolute favorite toy; cat springs. Now, I know I've gone on about these springs before, and they have many names on the cat toy circuit, but they began as Looney Loops (which Constance had also included). These are extremely lightweight, and make a wonderfully tantalizing spring sound that cats love, so they bounce all over when thrown and swatted. The springs also tend to stick to cats paws, especially those with claws, which drive them nuts (they think the spring is attacking them!) I must have near 50 floating around my house, as Truffles loves to play fetch with them, and they disappear into the smallest of nooks and crannies.
Also included were two dangly cat swatter toys and some tender Blue Buffalo Kitty yums. We had actually discovered Blue Buffalo during last month's exchange, in a different variety, and they had quickly disappeared, so I was glad to replenish our stock. Truffles can smell these through the bag, and knew they were for her right away! As usually, we had a wonderful month with PetPals. I wish I could have got a shot of Truffles with the springs, but it's one of those 'drop a spring on my head at 2am, trying to play' sort of deals, and last month was a blur with the holidays and new year. Thank you so much to Constance, Spike, and Jelly, may 2013 bring you and your furbabies many great things!

Sunday, February 3, 2013

The Places They Will Go: Strange Pet Sightings

We have 2, 5 tier, cat trees inside our 2 bedroom condominium, so why do I snap Instagram shots like this daily? Perhaps, like a kid, Truffles is most drawn to those things are are not designated 'hers'. Or perhaps she simply appreciates the childlike wonder of a good box?

Don't let these shots fool you, folks, just because she is standing in these shots does not mean she hasn't or isn't about to lay down, curl up in a ball, or sit for a length of time in those locations.  Just about the only place I haven't seen this cat is in the laundry (and I know a good many cats who prefer to lounge in baskets, and even open dryers). While it frustrates me endlessly that I've spent such an extravagant amount of money trying to make our home 'cat' friendly, and she still chooses the most inexplicable of places to relax; a part of me is incredibly envious. After all, how cool would it be to be able to climb behind, in, and around anything you wanted? How neat would it be to be able to leap to heights 8x your own, and look down upon the entire room in observance? Yes, some days I too wish I could crawl under a stereo cabinet, or enjoy the bath of sunlight streaming in across our dining table.

At the end of the day, however, I laugh it all off with a shrug; no matter where I may see her during the course of the afternoon, she's always sure to curl up in bed with me each night!

Where's the strangest place your pet likes to hang out?

Friday, February 1, 2013

@ArtCasso and Kitty-Casso: Painting With Pets Giveaway~ 1/24

It's no secret that we treat our pets just like children in our home. With no actual kidlings running around, the four legged terrors reign supreme. While I don't consider myself on the extreme end of the spectrum, I've been known to find non-traditional activities to share in with my pets. However I can whip up a home cooked meal for Nora just as soon as I will scoop a portion of kibble into her bowl. That is to say that I don't necessarily seek out crazy and unique Pet activities, but am certainly intrigued when one comes up. Somewhere out there is a Pinterest album of 'someday' tricks and treats I'd love to share with my furry kids. In the mean time, I'd like to give you a peak at one of the more unique activities I've engaged in recently; painting with my pets.
When Artcasso contacted my last Spring (yes, I know, it's been ages but there was a death and a move and yadda-yadda), I was intrigued by the concept. Of course the first thing that comes to mind when one hears 'pet' and 'paint' in the same phrase is splattered walls and paw prints on the ceiling. I was ready to nix the idea right out of the gate, but I wandered on over to their website to take a better look at just how Pup-Casso and Kitty-Casso worked. The secret was in the patented 'paint shields' they included with each art kit. Essentially these are thick, clear, plastic drapes that go beneath and atop the canvas. Simply Suirt some of the included paint (or paints of your own choosing) on the canvas and top with the Paint Shield. Then use treats or toys to coax your pet through interaction, thus smearing the paint and creating a masterpiece (in theory).
I received a Mug-Casso kit for dogs and a Kitty-Casso kit for cats, both with identical components, save one was a rounded canvas for a tumbler sleeve, and the other a traditional paint canvas. There were 3 blank canvases in each kit, along with Red, Yellow, Blue, White, and Black tubes of paint. Unfortunately, right off we had issues. I'm not sure if I waited to long to use the kits (though one would hope this gift would have longer than a 5 month shelf life), or if this was an old formula of paints- but they were thick. Some of the tubes, though completely sealed prior had seized beyond movement; even water would not coax them to use. This left us with 2.5 colors on Nora's Mug-Casso. Seeing as the usable paint was also exceptionally thick, we could do little more than glob it on to the canvas in several spots. I should note, I've seen several customer photos on the Art-Casso website and Facebook page that indicate this is not the norm. I'm also sure the company would have been glad to send us a replacement kit- but the 'kids' were already amped up, and I was determined to get these done for Christmas gifts.
Nora is used to having playtime outside, or with other dogs. She observes an 'indoor' attitude that is very calm and docile; most of her indoor play consists of persistent chewing and gnawing on ropes and toys.While this 4.5lb dog was the perfect size for the Mug-Casso canvas, she didn't want to move and kept sitting her bum down. Recall, the paint was exceptionally thick, and with her limited movement and weight, this was not much of a success. I ended up letting Sabrina (10) 'help' Nora paint. The look on Nora's face as Sabrina was mock painting with her paws was worth a laugh or two. When all was said and done I wondered how dogs on the opposite end of the size spectrum would fare with this project. More weight could mean great paint distribution in just a few steps, but the paint Shield is heavy duty yet limited in size. While it greatly overlaps the canvas, one backwards paw from a Medium to Large breed dog, in excitement, could pull the entire shield back, I'd imagine. It's my opinion these kits are best suited for pets 5-15lbs, or for use with a larger drop cloth beneath.
We let Frankie try out the Kitty-Casso kit, which included the same 3 Canvas papers, 3 Paint Shields, 5 Color Paint tubes, and a complimentary black 'frame', to display your pet's best work. The frame is what we ended up gifting Frankie's masterpiece to Jeremy in, for Christmas, but let's face it, having a canvas of your pet's art on the fridge is worth just as many hoots. Frankie was a little more 'workable' than Nora had been. He tried to run at first, thinking he was in trouble (since we don't support cats on the dining table), but quickly changed his tune when food was introduced into the scenario. Kitty-Casso had also included a catnip toy to play with, in hopes of inciting some action, though Frankie was most content to follow the kibble's every move. Again, the paint in this kit was thick, we made a usable set by combining the best colors from both kits, overall, but I plan on using the extra canvases with our own acrylic paints soon. While gifting a complete kit is a bonus, some may want to use their own colors anyway- a small tube of paint can be purchased for around $.50 at the local craft store.
Based on our experiences I have a few tips. Artcasso includes 3 Paint Shields and 3 Canvases with each kit. I highly suggest using one of the three shields beneath your canvas to protect whatever surface you are creating on from run off, or accidental kickbacks that may see the paint shield peeled up. Don't expect to see paw prints on the canvas, the paint does not actually touch your pet's paws, and the plastic barrier tends to mute/squish the movements and impressions from your pet's weight. This is much more an abstract work of art meant to be tied to memories of you and your pet, not a literal masterpiece. Don't be afraid to go light and use minimal splotches of paint/color. You may find more character and recognition from lighter movements and smears.
pet art
In all, I loved the outcome of our Kitty-Casso masterpiece. We helped out a little, but Frankie is certainly visible in the smudges and smears of paint. The included frame has a kick out stand for easy display and is of a good quality for such. The kits are fairly affordable, making them wonderful gifts for pet lovers, or the simply curious pet owner. Kids will certainly want to get involved, though you'll need extra protection when completing this project around children, because pets are likely to become more riled around children. Of course Artcasso has many other kids for the non-furry, so be sure to visit them and check out what they have for memorable gifts year-round.

One reader will win a Pup-Casso or Kitty-Casso Kit AND a Mug-Casso Kit!