How to Collar Even the Craftiest Cat

By: Mary Pat Baldauf

Cats. I love ‘em. I have two, both rescues. Baghera is a three-year-old black cat who literally picked ME out at the City of Columbia Animal Services Division. Mowgli is a beautiful tabby kitten I got from our vet’s office, Four Paws Animal Clinic, in May. Both are Beastie Bandsadorable, loving cats, but I haven’t been able to keep a collar on either of them – that is, until I discovered Beastie Bands, a modern day miracle.

Both Mowgli and Baghera are indoor cats. They like to lounge on my screened-in back porch, where they watch birds and catch lizards, but their home is inside. Ideally, they don’t even need collars. But Baghera once reigned over a mobile home park, and she occasionally likes to slip out the back door and experience life in the wild again. To be on the safe side, I bought tags and collars for both cats.

I’ve tried many a collar on these two, and nothing stays on more than 24 hours. Not only do they get the collars off, they hide them so well that they are never to be seen again. Both cats are micro chipped, and while I would prefer them to have a collar, I eventually resigned myself to having collarless cats.

As is so often the case, once I quit fighting the issue, it resolved itself. While picking up the cats from boarding at The Cat Clinic, I noticed some thin, colorful collars called Beastie Bands. Made from thin Neoprene similar to a Koozie, I saw that the Beastie Bands were quite light and attached with Velcro instead of a buckle or clip. They were pretty inexpensive, less than $6 each, so I decided to give them a try. And four weeks later, both cats are still sporting their Beastie Bands.

According to the manufacturer, Beastie Bands are designed exclusively for cats. Soft and comfortable, the collars stretch along their entire length for safety and are so soft and lightweight that they stay on virtually all cats. Beastie Bands’ unique cut-to-fit feature allows them to fit any cat – from a kitten to the biggest tomcat! They also feature a grommet for easy id tag attachment.

The only downside that I’ve found with Beastie Bands? Choosing one! They come in a wide variety of colors and designs, so it’s hard to decide which one to get. I finally settled on Tribal Tattoo for Baghera and Devil Cat for Mowgli.

In closing, please know that as a blogger, I don’t do personal reviews. But after finally finding a collar that I could keep on my cats, I thought some of you may be interested in my experience. I haven’t received any compensation from Beastie Bands; I just love their product. If you have a cat that’s hard to collar, I suggest that you give it a try. It was a game changer for the Baldauf cats!

Spring Fever

By: Shannon Shull

Ok, I don’t know about any of you, but I’ve got Spring Fever something fierce! In fact, I think I may have Summer Fever. And I’ve got it bad. I am so ready for warmer weather, blooming flowers, and green grass. I have to say, I feel incredibly guilty admitting it, considering we really didn’t have that bad of a winter. Folks across the U.S. have been brutalized with terrible cold weather, snow, and ice. And here in the ole South we’ve only had two days in which the cold temperatures forced a two-hour school delay – which was lovely, by the way. Those extra two hours made all the difference in the world. Getting up at 7:00am, as opposed to 5:30am, made a very long day of teaching 150 middle school students way easier to deal with!

Ready to leap into Spring...

Ready to leap into Spring…

Ah, so maybe that’s it… Spring Fever is setting in hardcore because I’m ready for that summer break! Surviving my first year of teaching has been a whopper to say the least. Between settling into the new schedule, new procedures, new everything… the enormous workload of teaching, getting my teacher certification through the PACE program and new teacher induction, I guess it’s no wonder I’m ready for a new start in Spring and that upcoming summer break.

I read an article online in the Los Angeles Times that had some pretty interesting things to say about Spring Fever from a scientific point of view. Check it out…

“Some scientists think spring fever is more than just a colloquialism — they think it’s a constellation of symptoms brought about by hormonal changes in the body.  In winter, the body secretes high levels of melatonin, a hormone that governs sleep-wake cycles. Come spring, the increasing amount of daylight is registered by light-sensitive tissue in the eye, which signals the brain to stop secreting so much melatonin. As the hormone’s levels drop off, greater wakefulness results.

 

On the other hand, levels of another chemical, serotonin, rise in spring. This mood-elevating neurotransmitter may be at the root of the giddiness, energy boost and enthusiasm that characterize spring fever.”

A bit fascinating, heh? Well, regardless of the mystery of spring fever, I have no shame admitting that I indeed have the fever. I cannot wait to see lush, green grass and blooming flowers and to feel the warmth in the air. I cannot wait to hear my kids splashing in the water as I lay poolside, soaking up the sun’s rays, watching them swim. I can’t wait to get out on Lake Murray with my Mama at the helm of her boat, waving to all the other folks enjoying time on the lake. And yes, goodness gracious, I cannot wait for a much needed refreshing summer break to recover and renew myself after a grueling, but glorious first year teaching full time.

So the countdown IS ON. I’m ready for ya, springtime. I am embracing the fever. How about you? 🙂

Pumpkin Muffins

By: Brady Evans

I used to be able to make it just fine eating breakfast at 6:00 or 6:30am and then eating lunch at 11:45am or so. Nowadays, though, the hunger strikes around 10:00am and I feel like I can’t. go. on. without a snack. For a while I made a habit out of buying some sort of junky breakfast bar variety pack from Costco but then I got around to accepting that approach wasn’t cost effective at all.

I know it is a little “late” in the season (or freakishly early) to be enjoying and blogging about pumpkin flavored treats but it’s what I’m enjoying now so I thought I’d share. There are SO MANY pumpkin bread recipes out there and I settled on this one because it seemed perfectly spiced and traditional enough to suit my needs.

I snacked on these guys all week and they kept perfectly. They deserve the usual praises: moist but not too moist, spicy but not overwhelming, and perfectly pumpkin-y.  I used whole wheat flour in them and had great results so if you are interested in whole grain baking, this is a great recipe to try!

Pumpkin muffins

Pumpkin Muffins (Pumpkin Bread) (adapted slightly from Simply Recipes)

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups flour (I used whole wheat)
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup pumpkin purée
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon allspice

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Sift together the flour, salt, sugar, and baking soda in a large bowl.
  2. Mix the pumpkin, oil, eggs, 1/4 cup of water, and spices together in a smaller bowl, then combine with the dry ingredients, but do not mix too thoroughly.
  3. Pour into a well-buttered 9 x 5 x 3 inch loaf pan or a muffin tin lined with paper liners. Bake 50-60 minutes for the loaf or 18-23 minutes for the muffins until a thin skewer poked in the very center of the loaf comes out clean. Turn out of the pan and let cool on a rack.

Fresh Pasta At Last!

By: Elizabeth Webber Akre

PastaBy now, you probably have deduced that I love to cook. I love the fact that my family rarely eats out; we eat home-cooked food pretty much every day.

Those of you with children know how vital pasta can be in a meal repertoire. Kids and spaghetti and meatballs are a natural match. My whole adult life, I’ve wanted to make pasta. I’ve read countless recipes. The making of the dough is simple and ingredients are minimal. I always read recipes about halfway, get excited, and then inevitably reach the end where each and every recipe tells you to drag out your pasta machine. I guess each time I hoped I’d find that someone would tell me a way to make pasta without this tool. But, alas, it has never happened.

I am one of those people whom the holidays (and my birthday and anniversary) actually sneak up on. Each time one of the gift-giving seasons rolls around, my mom asks me “What do you want for your birthday, Christmas?” etc. My usual answer is “I dunno. I haven’t thought about it.”  Well, this Christmas when she asked me, I actually had an answer! I don’t know how in the world this thought popped into my head at this exact moment, after all these years, but I said quite frankly, “I want the pasta machine attachment for my Kitchenaid mixer.” There you have it.

making pastaMy wonderful parents came through and I received the pasta roller attachment, along with a spaghetti and fettuccine cutter. Mama Mia!  I’m in business now!  The next day, I mixed up a simple egg pasta recipe using my standing mixer, then attached my pasta roller and BAM! I had homemade, fresh pasta. In about 45 minutes (the dough has to rest before you roll it out) you have your own fresh pasta.That first day we cut spaghetti and tried it with simple red sauce, with olive oil and one batch just with a little butter and salt. It makes such a difference making it yourself. It’s so much more tender without being too delicate.

Fresh ravioliOur next endeavor was ravioli. After reading several recipes in several different cookbooks, I settled on a simple ricotta cheese filling. The little one and I rolled out pasta sheets and filled our little ravioli pockets.  This time around, we opted to toss the finished ravioli in a little butter and olive oil mixture and then sprinkled it with chopped, toasted walnuts. Green salad on the side and we were happy little bambinos. Next time, we’re going with seafood ravioli of some sort – lobster or crab probably. And after that, homemade lasagna sheets. Can’t wait for that.

So, if you’ve been longing for fresh pasta but have been intimidated or lacking the right equipment like me, invest and have fun with it. You don’t have to have a standing mixer. For a bazillion years, Italians have been using hand-cranked pasta rollers or even cutting the noodles by hand (gasp!)  You’ll appreciate the difference between homemade and store bought pasta and it’s fun to make. The kids love it especially.  And, remember, you can make your own and either roll it up and store in the fridge, or hang it on a drying rack and use it later. Homemade is always better. Always.

Elizabeth writes “Gastronomy (by a Wanna-Be Chef)” in addition to being a Realtor®, wife, mom, Girl Scout leader and Sunday school teacher. You know, she wears many hats, like Every Woman! J Like you.

Juggling Act

By: Katie Austin

JuggleDo you ever get that overwhelming feeling that you have a lot to do with no time to get it all done? Like you juggle what you can, but items seem to stay on your to-do list? Do you feel frustrated and like you didn’t accomplish anything?

 “The fact of the matter is, when I’m on tour, I’m juggling so hard to keep all the balls in the air that I don’t often get to really enjoy what I’m out there doing.” —Amy Grant

 I can completely relate to this quote! To piggyback on my New Year’s article, one of the items I hope to tackle this year is my multitasking. I love to multitask since it gives me the feeling that I am getting a lot done. BUT, I occasionally take on too much at once and feel like I spend more time trying to keep those items going rather than focusing to get them done. I juggle work, school, and everything in between, so I need to find a productive way of getting things done. 

 “I just dropped my iPhone in my soup. I think it might be time to tone down the multitasking.” —Emma Watson

 Here is what I found to be helpful in limiting multitasking and finding balance in my life:

  1. Keep track of what you do. To take control of your multitasking, you have to know where you spend your time. Track what you do each day in 30-minute blocks for one week. Once you have this information, you will be able to see where you can limit multitasking.
  2. When you do multitask, limit how many items you are juggling. Keep in mind that the fewer the tasks to juggle, the more effective and efficient you will be. This is a hard area for me as I had to stop taking on every task in my to-do list! Now, I go through my list and determine what is a “have to get done” vs. a “want to get done.” From there, I keep my list simple. I focus more on getting one task done and spend less time trying to juggle my time between several tasks at once.
  3. Find time to NOT multitask.  This is so important for you to achieve balance in your life! My family will tell you that I am terrible about sitting through a whole movie without getting up to do laundry or some other task I’m hoping to cross off my list. But since the holidays, this has changed! I now block off time to be present while we watch movies or whatever else we decide to do as a family. I have found time to just “be,” which feels great 🙂

katieaustinHow do you keep from juggling too many tasks at once? Share what has worked for you here with your Every Woman Blog family.  We can learn from and help each other find balance in our lives. 

Wishing each of you a great day and I look forward to seeing you back on the Every a Woman Blog. 

~Katie Austin

Subscription Boxes: Like Your Birthday, Every Single Month

By: Mary Pat Baldauf

Like to try new products, but don’t have time to walk the aisles of your favorite stores? Do you sigh in disappointment when each trip to the mailbox brings only bills and solicitations? Do you like to treat yourself every once in a while? If you answered, “yes, please” to at least one of these questions, you’ll want to check out subscription boxes, the greatest thing since sliced bread.

Parcel

Subscription boxes contain an assortment of products usually related to a common theme or interest. They are typically sent out once a month, and prices generally range from $10 to $40 per box. Most boxes provide full-sized sample products, instead of the small freebies you get at the counter. The number of products in each box varies with each subscription box service, but most feature four to seven products per box.

I recently joined the subscription box scene with Parcel, a box from the people at Greatist, a leading source for all things fitness, health, and happiness. Parcel is like Greatist all wrapped into a neat little package and delivered to my doorstep for only $20 a month. Instead of spending hours and tons of money searching through products at health and fitness stores, I open my Parcel box and BAM – it’s like my birthday. Every. Single. Month.

Resolve to treat yourself with a subscription box service in the New Year! These days, there’s a subscription box for just about everyone, from dog lovers and health nuts to make-up mavens and fitness fanatics. Your perfect subscription box is just a Google search away.

If subscription boxes are a new concept to you, what questions do you have? Currently subscribe to a box? Share which one(s) you get and why you love receiving it. If you could design a box just for you, what types of products would it include?

That Dove Ad

…And Why I Think The Discussion It Sparks Is Really Good For Us All

By: Shannon Shull

One of my amazing sisters sent me a link to this great Dove ad, with a note that said “This is cool! A video of how women perceive themselves verses how others perceive them.”

You may or may not have caught wind of or seen this video, but here is the link: http://www.upworthy.com/2-people-described-the-same-person-to-a-forensic-artist-and-this-is-what-happene?c=reccon1

And now here is the crucial part: make sure to take note of the credits posted after the ad video:

“Credits: ORIGINAL: By Dove. While we really like the experiment featured here, we do have some problems with this ad as a whole. Check out this critique by Jazz Brice and this post from our own Kaye Toal to find out why.”

If you actually take the time to watch Dove’s ad video, which you should, then you absolutely must read the bloggers’ responses to the ad.

In my opinion, all these folks involved – the Dove Ad Campaign people and these two bloggers – are fabulous on so many different levels.

I watched the video first and I admit, I totally cried. Yep, a tears-running-down-the-face, struggling-to-speak-straight kind of cry. Why it struck me so deeply is hard to explain. I was in the moment and the ad did its work – it reeled me in and tugged at my strings.

But… I actually caught sight of the credits note at the end of the post and then proceeded to read both of the links included. Now, here was the “A-ha!” moment for me: to read, consider and truly contemplate different perspectives. I admire bloggers Jazz Brice and Kaye Toal and consider their willingness and openness absolute genius. Whether you agree with their point of view or not is here-say. What matters – what mattered for me – was that they allowed me to think about this crucial topic in a different light.

I won’t repeat all the things I agree with and I won’t try to dissect every little thing about the video and their responses. But, I will say that I think everyone, men and women, should take note of how “beauty” is addressed in this video and the responses to it, and should then address your own take on it.

Self confidenceIt made me take note of the sad fact that a majority of the time, if there is a discussion about beauty among my friends/family and I, the main topic is usually about what things we would change about ourselves if we could. Can you remember a time when the focus of a beauty discussion was about applauding your individual strengths? The things that you feel good about when it comes to your own appearance? I’d bet money that even Victoria’s Secret models have discussions about the things that they DON’T like about themselves.

And think about it, most of us would feel like we’d be perceived as conceited if we actually applauded the things we might consider positive and attractive about ourselves. And that my dears, is just plain sad. But it’s a sad truth about society today.

The main thing that I got from watching the Dove ad and reading these two fabulous responses, is the basic truth that beauty is in the eye of the beholder! And what a beautiful truth that is. People come in all different shapes, sizes and colors and daggomit, we’re all individually attracted to different attributes and qualities.

That’s another beauty in life: what I find attractive, you may not get at all and vice versa. To each his own! And now the kicker: the most important part is that we recognize that beauty is indeed in the eye of the beholder and then acknowledge our own individual beauty. And when I say that, I mean it… our own INDIVIDUAL, God-given, unique beauty. Not the society-imposed idea of beauty, but the beauty we know that we possess not only on the inside but on the outside, too. It’s not going to do us a bit of good to focus on the things we would change if we could and then punish ourselves over it. We should instead celebrate our own unique beauty and recognize it!  No racist or judgmental attitudes allowed.

Truly think about what your positives and celebrate those lovely qualities. Ask someone you love to tell you the things they adore about you, what catches their eye, what stands out and makes you beautiful to them. I bet you will be pleasantly surprised and most likely gain a new outlook on yourself.

Before bringing this blog entry to a close, I Googled images for “Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder.” WOW. When I came across this quote by Salma Hayek I had another tear-jerker moment…

“People often say that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and I saw that the most liberating thing about beauty is realizing that you are the beholder.”

How powerful is that?!  You are the beholder!  Talk about a “BOOM Yow” moment!!

There you have it. Liberate yourself, people, and realize that YOU are the beholder!!!  Some days it will be harder than others, but never lose sight of recognizing what you find beautiful in you. Allow your own unique beauty to bring you self confidence and you will radiate such loveliness. Be the beholder of your own beauty!