Momma Told Me: February 2017

Blog Archive

Cats VS Dogs: Mischief + D.I.Y Doggy Stairs Tutorial

Disclosure: This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #NewPetNoStains #CollectiveBias
Which causes more mischief? We weigh in! #NewPetNoStains AD
Momma Told Me: Like cats and dogs.

Growing up we had musical pets.

I've touched on the stories before, but it basically boiled down to Momma's need to bring home any wayward animal, often those with serious terminal illness. It taught me compassion for animals, regardless of their stage of life- but it definitely was tough as a child to constantly see pets come and go.

Understandably, as soon as I became a responsible adult with a home of my own I was determined to find fur-ever pets of my own and to provide them with a fur-ever home. Not only was I accustomed to having animals around, but I understood the extreme responsibilities of being a pet owner under many circumstances. What I was not prepared for were the challenges of bringing a puppy or kitten home- essentially a child. Nearly all of the pets of my childhood were senior, definitely adult, animals which required no patience in obedience or house-training.
When I first brought Truffles home she was a tiny kitten, covered in fleas, which fit in the palm of my hand. She had to be bottle fed, as her mother had been unable to feed and ween her, and she slept on my bosom close to the sound of my beating heart for the first several months of her life. It was instant love.

The above photo, which has remained my phone wallpaper for 6 years (through 5 phones), captures Truffles at about 1 year of age, curled up and sleeping peacefully. It remains my all time favorite photo of her, which is saying a lot for a cat photographed every day, despite the somewhat comical circumstances of her scene. One lesson I'd never learned growing up- cat's in 'heat' and how completely delightful they can be on the ears. When I took this snapshot I was quite literally making an appointment for her to be spayed, and thankful for the 5 minutes of peace and quiet!
When I brought Nora home she weighed less than Truffles had, but was twice the size thanks to a thick coat of 'fluff' I have a hard time calling fur. We drove 4 hours, each way, to bring her home and it was clear from that first car ride Nora was not your typical dog. Through her first years of life we thought we'd never see her potty trained (it wasn't easy going living in a second story condo with a dog) and that we'd likely never get any sleep. Nora wanted to play all the time!
#NewPetNoStains AD
Of course, much like with human kids, any good pet parent knows the secret to staying sane through the 'toddler' years is patience, and a few top secret weapons. In our case we kept plenty of sanitizing wipes, baby wipes, and carpet cleaner on hand to promote deep breathing and serenity during Nora's first year. Ideally we would have had STAINMASTER® Carpet installed to help keep our pad pet friendly, but, as renters we couldn't so easily tear up the flooring just to welcome our new pet. Thankfully STAINMASTER® has a brand new product line designed to help new pet owners (really ANY pet owners) keep their sanity through the bundles of messes that come with bringing home a new furry friend.
Pick up Stainmaster Carpet Pet Stain Remover from a Target near you, or buy online today, for fuss free removal of pretty much any stain your pet throws at you. #NewPetNoStains AD
Naturally pet accidents are one of the lest fun aspects of being a pet parent, and tend to happen most with puppies or kittens, during that 'potty training' phase. However, you might find yourself needing STAINMASTER® Carpet Pet Stain Remover on hand if you have recently moved (territory issues), have an elderly or ill pet (UTIs are quite common with house cats) or introduce a new family member into the home. STAINMASTER® Carpet Pet Stain Remover is designed to not only quickly clean on contact, but to also help repel future stains and odors thanks to powerful ODOR REMOVE™ technology. And, while it works great with a variety of pet related stains, it's also powerful against coffee, ketchup, and pretty much any other typical household carpet stain while leaving no sticky residue.

I was able to pick up new powerful STAINMASTER® Carpet Pet Stain Remover at my local Target in Ventura, California but STAINMASTER® Carpet is currently only available at select Target locations nationwide. CLICK HERE to find STAINMASTER® Carpet Pet Stain Remover at a Target near you, or to order it online and have it shipped free to your local Target store. Click the button below to save 25% on STAINMASTER® Carpet Pet Stain Remover with Cartwheel at Target now through March 4, 2017. This is especially useful for anyone hoping to adopt a new pet in the coming months!
As both a cat and dog mother I'm often asked which animal I feel is 'easier' to care for. I think this is a rather silly question, really, because every animal (much like humans) has their own unique individual personality. How a pet is raised definitely contributes to it's behaviors, but there's also a large element of the animal's own personality that will always remain their own. Because our cat out weighs our dog by half a pound, I think she has the upper edge on mischief-

BUT, cats are also generally unrestricted in their territory. They can jump, climb, and crawl into pretty much any corner, height, or crevice. This allows a lot more freedom than the average house-bound dog has. For instance, while Nora might investigate and try to eat a house plant if she was given the opportunity, we keep our plants up in alcoves she could never reach. So the job of plant tipping, and eating, is left all to the cat.

In fact, one might think our dog's life is quite dull-

As a toy breed she is primped and pampered, grooming wise, often, and she has an over abundance of items your ordinary dog would be too 'dog' to own. Her wardrobe is bigger than Jay's and she has a trough of toys we bought solely because they would 'look cute' next to her, that she'll probably never really get to. And then there are the constant 'naps' on her favorite couch, with her favorite human. Truth be told, if one of them is down for the count and out of mischief, than the other is attached at the hip behaving them-self, too. I especially love those moments.
Meanwhile, Truffles, the cat, is busy scaling every household surface, opening cabinets, and attempting to claw on any surface she hasn't directly been told not to scratch, yet. As of lately I'll usually catch Jay and the dog napping on the couch while the cat proceeds to fit herself into every nook and cranny of Jay's work desk. The truly hilarious part? That cream thing on the left side of the photo above is a rather expensive cat tree. Nobody tells a cat where they'll loaf, I guess!
Just because the cat's always getting into something she probably shouldn't, don't think that she gets to have ALL the fun. After all, the dog is the one who gets to leave the house. In the past year alone Nora has been on 2 plane trips (cross country) and 3 road trips (up North), and she rides along to pretty much any event we attend where we're not explicitly told animals aren't allowed. And, of course, there's also the beach- if I don't bathe her immediately upon re-ntry into the house I'll find my carpets have been transformed into a sandy oasis for weeks.
At the end of the day, though, the house is a playground for the cat and the dog's relatively grounded. In the spirit of making her world a little more accessible I decided to make some simple dog stairs for our living room couch. Dog stairs might sound absurd if you have a larger breed animal, such as a Labrador, but many ages (and breeds) of dogs can benefit from having home access assistance at one point in their life or another. For example, older dogs often suffer from joint pain, while dachshunds simply weren't built to make large leaps. And other dogs, such as Nora, aren't keen about the sudden drop when coming off of the couch.
DIY Doggy Stairs- No woodworking skills required! Grab your supplies at Target! #NewPetNoStains AD
There are many materials one could use to make dog stairs, and some dogs may even require a ramp. In planning my dog stairs I spent hours searching online for inspiration. In the end, I wasn't really able to find anything I could easily assemble with my limited woodworking ('shop') skills and tools. The end result was some creative visualization. In fact, I actually found the base for my structure in the children's bedding department of Target. Simple wooden storage bins just happened to provide the perfect building blocks for my steps.
After an hour or so of rearranging 3 wooden storage bins in every configuration I could imagine I settled on a simple 2 bin composition. Using wood glue I attached the two bins, then added some side brackets for extra stability. In this case I used a pair of hinges leftover from another project. They didn't serve a purpose, hinge wise, but I rather liked the aesthetic of the design.
Next I gave my stairs a quick coat of white paint and allowed it to dry for 6 hours. Because I knew I wanted the stairs to look worn as part of their final design I then put on gloves, eye protection, and a face mask and grabbed a few sheets of varying grit sand paper. Focusing on the edges, and anywhere wear would naturally accumulate I roughly sanded to remove some of that fresh coat of paint. Make sure, once you're happy with your finish, that you wipe down any residue and give your stairs a nice clear top coat and seal.

If you'd like to add more depth to your aging you can even add a light layer of color atop your white base and 'wet sand' over that once the paint has halfway dried.
DIY Doggy Stairs- No woodworking skills required! Grab your supplies at Target! #NewPetNoStains AD
I have to say, considering this project didn't require any wood work, I'm quite pleased with how my stairs turned out. They're the perfect height for Nora, and really subtle against the couch in our main living room. The stairs themselves lean against the couch for extra stability, and are very lightweight and easy to move from room to room. I just might make a set for Nora's bed!
DIY Doggy Stairs- No woodworking skills required! Grab your supplies at Target! #NewPetNoStains AD
I have to say, the stairs seem to be just another piece of furniture our pets immediately claimed as their own. It took a while for Nora to figure out she was 'allowed' on them, but after the initial hesitation we've caught her sitting on them. She's even been spotted trying to find a way to lay down across them.
DIY Doggy Stairs- No woodworking skills required! Grab your supplies at Target! #NewPetNoStains AD
In our household the cat definitely gets into more shenanigans than the dog- but I wouldn't say she has all the fun. These two have even been known to play with one another from time to time. Heaven help me if they ever decide to team up on their mischief- I may have to invest in STAINMASTER® stock! One thing's for sure- whether you're bringing home a new puppy, or tossing a ball of yarn to your senior cat, pets rule our homes, not the messes they make! Now, tell me a little bit about a time when your pet caused a little mischief of their own.

What Daughter Says: It's not easy raising productive pets of society- cat or dog, big personalities can result in even bigger messes. Lucky for them, we wouldn't have it any other way.

At Home Photo Booth Fun

D.I.Y Photo Booth for Emotional Growth and Cooperative Play
Momma Told Me: Express yourself.

I don't have kids.

Every time I say that I feel like it's a bit of a lie. Every time I fill out a survey or form and it asks me to list my children, there are at least 20 that come to mind. Sure, I can't claim them because I didn't give birth to them, and they don't go to sleep under my roof- but, whether they're blood related (nieces/nephews) or just children from the daycare, I feel a bit of a stake in the quality of their lives. I don't have children, yet, I would do just about anything to see the children in my life happy. And, really, there's a reason they say 'It takes a village.'

But, before this post gets off on an entirely different tangent, about how people can have consciously chosen not to give birth to children, at this point in their life so far, and it doesn't mean they don't like children- (Yes, that is a stereotype I get a lot) Let us all agree that it takes next to nothing to make a child happy. In most cases, simply your time. And that the time spent is always minimal compared to the rewards.
So, whether you have children of your own, or nieces or nephews, or maybe are a childcare provider- you likely know that 1. Kids can find fun in just about anything if you point them in the right direction, 2. Kids have amazing personalities and 3. As constantly changing as children are, it's important to capture every moment you can.

When I was a child I was obsessed with capturing the world on camera- Momma and Pop had a Polaroid that was my absolute favorite, but I was only permitted to take 1 photo a week, given the cost. Of course I had a disposable camera too, and it always seemed like an eternity to get my prints back from the drug store. These days it's free, and easier than ever, to capture moments and memories in images thanks to smart phones and electronic devices with built in cameras.
One would think this would make the concept of taking photos a dull one, to the modern kid- but I've found there's still something magical about having the camera turned on them. It may be a little vain, but the kind of kids I hang around just adore to see themselves on screen, or in print. This is great because, as easy as it is for the modern parent to chronicle the childhood of their children most parents often don't think to stop and take photos that will actually be displayed. Sure, you pay ridiculous prices for the digital format of your children's school photos- but do they really capture the essence of who your child is in that particular moment and year?

And that's exactly why I decided our activity of the week, at the daycare, would be a carnival themed photo booth. It may sound a bit elaborate, but it really cost me less than $15. Photo props can be purchased on Amazon quite cheap; I bought a 65 piece set for just over $10. For our 'booth' we really just set up a background by clipping some leftover fabric to an oversized appliance box. To really help the kids' personalities shine I even offered to do a little face painting.
D.I.Y Photo Booth for Emotional Growth and Cooperative Play
I might not be the world's best artist, but I truly enjoyed listening to each child talk about what they wanted, and how the painting's subject inspired or empowered them. Sure Spiderman or 'rainbow triangles' (the 3 year-old's request) might not be 'in' next year, but that's the fun of capturing this day in time on film.
D.I.Y Photo Booth for Emotional Growth and Cooperative Play
D.I.Y Photo Booth for Emotional Growth and Cooperative Play
At first some of the kids were a little shy. Though we'd broken the ice with some face painting, many of the children expressed that photos were for 'nice faces' and only taken when something important happened at school, or for a holiday. As soon as they got the idea that they could truly bring any mood to life, things really began to get fun.
D.I.Y Photo Booth for Emotional Growth and Cooperative Play
D.I.Y Photo Booth for Emotional Growth and Cooperative Play
"Photo Booth" is now the most requested Thursday activity in our little group- and, while I don't want it to lose it's special charm and become novel, we're always looking for ways to take this simple concept and work it into something else.For example, a photo booth can be a great way to discuss emotions, build creative play and cooperative skills, or help boost self confidence in diversity and individuality. Of course, the best part of this little project was printing out the photos for parents to take home. Now, tell me a little bit about your favorite photo of your child, or your favorite photo of yourself from growing up! Mine is a photo of 2 year-old me with a stuffed beaver backpack, in diapers with my hair a hot mess, standing in my mother's shoes, just crying red hot crocodile tears. I always knew turning on the waterworks would get attention from my father, haha!

What Daughter Says: Treasure every moment, capture everyday character!

Treating With #NutrishPets + D.I.Y Leash Station Tutorial

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #TreatingWithNutrish #CollectiveBias #NutrishPets
Organize your pet with a D.I.Y leash station. #TreatingWithNutrish #NutrishPets AD

 As many of you know we recently moved from a condo into a house. Because we new have about 4x the space we had at our prior home one might be inclined to think all of my organization problems have been solved. Wrong. In fact, I feel the more space I have, the more overwhelmed I am with finding places where everything belongs. Sure, having 2 extra bedrooms means I could quite literally just open a door and throw someone inside and nobody would be any wiser. And, as genius as that seemed while I contemplated it, I'd still have to invest time digging through the 'junk pit' for those things when I needed them.

Because we don't have human kids our pets are the number one source of clutter in our lives. They are our fur children, so to speak, and they are spoiled rotten adored. I wish I could say the dog had a designated space and the cat had her own designated space- but anyone who knows cats will tell you not to bother setting boundaries, and having a tiny dog (as it turns out) takes up way more room than anyone could imagine. So I decided to tackle one of Nora's largest areas of active clutter- her traveling dog treats, leashes, and poo bags.
Now, I know what you're thinking- Jenna, your dog weighs 7lbs, don't you just carry her everywhere. What do you need leashes for? And while Nora does get her fair share of carrying, she is actually a very high energy adult dog. If she doesn't get out for walks regularly I find that she stirs a lot more while napping and during my own free time. Since the 3 staples, leash, poo bags, and treats, are carried out with the dog multiple times a day they are often the first things you'll find laying across the living couch, on the kitchen nook, or even in the laundry room.
In hopes of cutting back on this clutter, and simplifying our daily routines, I set out on a mission to organize our 'walk' materials. First thing was first- I was going to need a variety of mobile treats I could easily store and 'grab-n'go.' Lucky for me, while shopping on a recent stop at the park I discovered a brand new range of Rachael Ray™ Nutrish® dog treats for Nora. With fun names, inspired by real human food recipes, like Pawsta, Savory Roasters, Meatloaf Morself, and Deli Cuts, these colorful fun shaped treats are intended to engage curious canine minds. They're also available in resealable 3oz treat pouches that are perfect for taking on the go with your pup!
Discover new Rachael Ray Nutrish treats in fun varieties suchas Pawsta and Meatloaf Morsels. #NutrishPets #TreatingWithNutrish AD
I won't lie, Rachael Ray™ Nutrish® Pawsta, meat-filled treats, was my personal favorite simply for the fun rigatoni shell replica chewy outer layer. They're also corn and wheat free,have no artificial flavors or meat by-products, and feature U.S. farm raised beef or chicken as the number 1 ingredient. While these treats look like they're about bit sized for the ordinary dog, breeds vary and dogs such as Nora should exercise portioning and always be watched while enjoying.
Discover new Rachael Ray Nutrish treats in fun varieties suchas Pawsta and Meatloaf Morsels. #NutrishPets #TreatingWithNutrish AD
I'll be honest it was the Pawsta and Deli Cuts Rachael Ray™ Nutrish® treat verities that inspired my order, but we simply had to order and try all 5 of the new varieties. Did you know that a portion of the proceeds from Rachael Ray™ Nutrish® sales goes directly to Rachael's personal pet project (pun intended) Rachael's Rescue®? Though 2016 Rachael's Rescue® has raised and donated over $14 million towards organizations that do good for animals. As if you needed another reason to go ahead and treat your canine family members!
Organize your pet with a D.I.Y leash station. #TreatingWithNutrish #NutrishPets AD
So, with some new, inspired, treats on hand I set out to complete 'project organize the dog's junk' with a handy D.I.Y. Leash Station I could hopefully mount by our front door for easy access. Here's what you'll need:

A Board of Soft Wood (Cut to your Choosing)
Paw Print Template (Print here)
100-200 Framing Nails (1 1/2" Works Great)
Handle (In Style of Choice)
2 Hooks (In Style of Choice)
Small Hammer
Measuring Tape
Phillips Screwdriver
2 Clothespins
2 L Mounting Brackets, Matching Screws
Thick Braided Wire Cording (1')
Acrylic Paint (Optional for Clothespins)
The type of wood you'll want to use for this project will vary on what you have on hand- Keep in mind if you are not using a piece of cut, stained, lumber you will want a wood that is soft so as to not split while hammering. I found my base wood at a local craft store. It was 7.5" x 10.5" in rough dimensions.

You do not have to use 'L' brackets as I have chosen to do here, but you will likely want to evenly distribute the weight of the completed leash rack with 2 hanging points. Measure and center this hardware, and screw it directly into your wood base before you begin to hammer nails into it.

***Ideally you would want to attach all of your hardware to your board prior to hammering your paw print design in, to minimize vibrations and movement once completed- I chose to install the remainder of my hardware after to allow my hands better maneuverability while hammering.
Print Our Paw Print Template Here

Using the Paw Print Template as a guide trace a rough outline of your paw print in pencil onto your wood. Use your printer's copy/scan ability to size the paw print as needed for the shape of your surface. The current template is best for an 7.5" x 10.5" surface.
Using a small hammer drive the first few nails of the outer template into your wood. Hammer them in about 1/5" of the way so the head is securely within the wood, but the majority of the nail still protrudes for depth. Work your way from one side of the board to the other, from the outside of each part of the template inward. I used about 130 nails for my paw print, and chose to leave some of the paw pad open to simulate shading. The process took me about 2, patient, hours.
Once I had my nails all in place I measured our the positioning of my handle, and secured my hooks on either side. My intention for the handle is that we can easily clip longer traditional leashes to it in a pinch, where as we can quickly hang items off of the hooks when needed.
It was around this time Truffles must've decided Nora and I had been gone too long as she decided to pop her head in the window and inspect what we'd been up to. Thankfully some birds at the feeder caught her eye before she had time to notice her canine sister was munching on a stolen snack, compliments of  Rachael Ray™ Nutrish® Roasters.
We were almost done in any case- just one finishing touch-

2 wide head screws attached to the underside of our board, left out just enough to wrap our braided wire. While you could use a thick cord, or a variety of other materials for this, I rather liked the rustic, unfinished, feel of the wire and found it sturdy enough to meet our needs. My intend was that I could use clothespins to clip some treat bags, or a harness to this section as needed.
Discover new Rachael Ray Nutrish treats in fun varieties suchas Pawsta and Meatloaf Morsels. #NutrishPets #TreatingWithNutrish AD
Of course several hours of patiently supervising my latest craft project didn't wear Nora out- if anything it made her even more anxious to get up and get moving. But not before we practiced a few quick obedience commands in exchange for some delicious rewards!
Discover new Rachael Ray Nutrish treats in fun varieties suchas Pawsta and Meatloaf Morsels. #NutrishPets #TreatingWithNutrish AD
Discover new Rachael Ray Nutrish treats in fun varieties suchas Pawsta and Meatloaf Morsels. #NutrishPets #TreatingWithNutrish AD
Okay, so she might NOT have been so obedient as she snuck a Deli Cuts from the pouch when she thought I wasn't looking! They just happen to look like little slices of the human counterpart, pepperoni, so I'm sure she thought she was scoring big time!
I did have to mount my new project on the wall before we could put it to real use, and it seems the rustling of all of her 'away' gear was enough to tell Nora a walk was in her near future. Does your dog do flips and spin in circles when they know they are about to go 'out' too? At least all of her gear is by the door so I don't have to worry about any 'false alarms' when a discarded leash gets in the way, anymore.
Organize your pet with a D.I.Y leash station. #TreatingWithNutrish #NutrishPets AD
Our little leash station comfortably holds a retractable leash, poo bag dispenser, traditional leash, bag of treats, and more. How do you think it turned out? I rather like walking through my front door and seeing a sign of my furry friends at eye level! Want to let your pup experience the new Rachael Ray™ Nutrish® treats for themselves? Grab this exclusive coupon for $1.50 off treats now, while supplies last and pick up a package at your local grocer! (You can print it twice!) Now, tell me, what's the biggest source of clutter in your home for your furry (or human) kids?