Monday, December 31, 2012

A Heartfelt THANK YOU!!

As we bid farewell to 2012  Cody and I  want to thank all of you for sharing your time with us.....we love you and wish you a Happy and Safe New Year!

Here are 2 photos of cards that Cody and I received during the Holidays (we received others via email that are displayed on the side of our blog) We THANK YOU!

The first photo shows one of our favorite cards from our friend Mario......

It was designed to be a
Christmas tree ornament
and we think it is sooo cool!

I have these proudly displayed on the closet door in my office where they will stay til the end of January! I LOVE THEM! THANK YOU!

Then, when this post was already written and the above photo had been taken, we received this adorable card from our friends at The Furries of Whisppy it is just too cute! THANK YOU!!

Cody and I have been blogging since October of 2009 and this is the first time since we began blogging that I am uncertain as to whether or not we will be blogging another year.

 I am not sure what 2013 is going to bring. There is change in the air, what that is going to translate to,  I don't know.

 Will Cody and I be blogging in January? Yes.

 February? Yes.

 March? Probably...

April? Remains to be quote my furiends at Avalon Cat Cartoon Blog

"Que Sera!!!!!!!!"

Whatever is on the horizon and whatever changes might have to take place, we will welcome them knowing that whatever is meant to be will be.

We're buckling up for what should be an interesting ride.....

WELCOME 2013.....
We're ready for ya!

Love, Caren and Cody

Sunday, December 30, 2012

"The Highlight Of My Year" Part III "Meet Purina! "

If you have been reading Part I and Part II of "The Highlight Of My Year", you are aware that my trip to Purina for their "Meet Purina Blogger Summit" was indeed, the highlight of my year!  If you missed Part I you can read it here and to read Part II click here.

The people at Purina couldn't have been more welcoming, informative, open, and accommodating, there wasn't a need that went unmet. They also never stopped feeding us!

We were treated to a most interesting lunch in the Purina Culinary Center where Chef Amanda Hassner creates dishes that are "pet-inspired" and later become the flavors in much of the Purina pet food that you see in the stores today!

Chef Amanda Hassner was a complete joy!
Photo Courtesy of Nestle Purina PetCare

I must be part dog because my favorite dish was the inspiration for Chef Michael's Carvery Creations, Beef Short Ribs Flavor.

Check out the waffles
 and the maple glazed BACON!!Photo Courtesy of Nestle Purina PetCare

I never stopped laughing and smiling
on that trip!
Dan Koehler and I laugh at
something Diane Silver of
To Dog With Love said
Photo Courtesy of Nestle Purina PetCare

My least favorite was believe it or not the inspiration for Friskie's Tasty Treasures and it was made with chicken, tuna and cheese in gravy. Great for cats, for me? Not so much.
Was Tamar texting her kitties about the food?
Photo Courtesy of Nestle Purina PetCare

The "cat food" I didn't love that much
Photo Courtesy of Nestle Purina PetCare

That wasn't the end of the food! That evening Purina treated us all to a delicious and fun dinner at Sqwires. I greatly enjoyed not only the meal, but dining with my friends and having a wonderful conversation with Adrian Palensky who is Vice President of Quality Assurance for Nestle Purina.

Left to right:Dorian, Tamar, Angie, me
and in the middle, Jaime

Friday morning greeted us with a torrential downpour that lasted the entire day. That didn't dampen our spirits though. We were headed to Purina Farms!
I'm the one that looks like a bag lady
Photo Courtesy of Nestle Purina PetCare

At Purina Farms we were treated to presentations informing us about the purpose of the Farm, how Purina is involved with working with breeders and shelters and a discussion about "why pets make us better." As if we didn't already know :)

We toured Purina Farms and the Event Center, enjoyed a fabulous Cat Training Demonstration and a Dog Frisbee Competition!

You think that only CATS
love Brian's Home (Terry?)
Think again.
He was the "Poodle Whisperer!"
while Candy Caciolo,
the Portfolio Director for
Specialty, Breeder & Pet Acquisition
at Nestle Purina PetCare
was giving her presentation.
Photo Courtesy of Nestle Purina PetCare
See what I mean?
Don't let the kitties of
Brian's Home
see this!
Photo Courtesy of Nestle Purina PetCare

Photo Courtesy of Nestle Purina PetCare

Have no clue what I was babbling about
Photo Courtesy of Nestle Purina PetCare
Love this photo!
Left to right: Paris, me, Anastasia, Jaime, Felissa
and Terry in the middle!
Wish I could remember what we
were reacting to
Photo Courtesty of Nestle Purina PetCare

This dog performing is a rescue dog!
Photo Courtesy of Nestle Purina PetCare

Photo Courtesy of Nestle Purina PetCare

It was pouring rain
and nothing stopped these dogs!
Photo Courtesy of Nestle Purina PetCare

Who says cats can't learn tricks?
Photo Courtesy of Nestle Purina PetCare

More kitty tricks!
Photo Courtesy of Nestle Purina PetCare

Even more kitty tricks!
Photo Courtesy of Nestle Purina PetCare

After lunch in the Purina Pro Plan Incredible Dog Challenge VIP tent, Tamar (I Have Cat) Angie, (Catladyland) and I were given an impromptu tour of the incredible Cat Tower at Purina Farms!
Hey! What's a dog doing there?
Left to right: Tamar, me, Angie
and unnamed woofie
Cat Tower at Purina Farms
I had blogged about it in October
read about it here

Most of the cat bloggers, including this cat blogger, left on Friday, but a number of people stayed for events that took place on Saturday that were primarily dog related. Much of Saturday was involved in giving back to the community and helping pets. You can read about how Purina is deeply entrenched in animal welfare here.

I had the joy of sharing a ride back to the airport with Angie and Tamar,  just reading those names you know it was a good time!  Sadly, Tamar had a plane that left from a different part of the airport, so she missed me getting stopped by security and having my entire suitcase emptied (probably all of that Purina swag we received, but the security agent at Delta,  was kind enough to repack for me after I fussed about how hard it had been for me to get everything in there!). Tamar also missed a delicious hummus snack that Angie and I shared along with a double Bloody Mary for me (the nervous flyer! Angie had wine which thankfully unlike BlogPaws 2011 I didn't spill it on her. But I DID spill coffee on her at breakfast the day before!) 

Now do you see why it took me so long to blog about this trip? There was so much to write about, and there is so much more I could write about, but this was already longer than I had intended. THANK YOU to all of you for reading, and a HUGE THANK YOU to Nestle Purina for a trip that will always be appreciated and will never be forgotten!

Disclosure: Nestle Purina PetCare completely paid for my trip, accommodations, travel, etc. All opinions are my own.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Book Review: "Minette's Feast" by Susanna Reich Illustrated by Amy Bates

Having the chance to read and review the stunningly charming children's book: Minette's Feast by Susanna Reich was a complete thrill for me. I was ecstatic when I won the book on a give-away that one of my favorite blogs, A Tonk's Tail...(err, Tale) had a few months ago.

Minette's Feast is the story of a cat that  was adopted by legendary chef Julia Child while she was living in Paris.

I have always considered myself to be a "foodie", not just in the consumption of food, as evidenced by my "girlish" figure, but in my fascination for all things cooking, from collecting cookbooks, to being an avid "home cook" myself and watching cooking shows on PBS back in the days BEFORE there was ever a "Food Network." My favorite shows  to watch in those days were: in no particular order:

The Galloping Gourmet starring Graham Kerr
The Frugal Gourmet starring Jeff Smith
Amish Cooking From Quilt Country starring Marcia Adams
Cooking Live with Sara Moulton
Mr.Food starring Art Ginsburg
everything by Martha Stewart
and of course The French Chef starring  Julia Child

 I had always found Julia Child and her quirky, often befuddled and always brilliant ways to be a particular joy to watch. I just couldn't get enough of her and it was the movie
  Julie & Julia that made me go "Hmmm..." and planted the seed which would lead to the birth of Cat Chat.

I was thrilled when the blog, A Tonk's Tail offered a give-away of Minette's Feast: The Delicious Story of Julia Child and Her Cat. As you can probably tell, I won the book!

The illustrations in the book are particularly delightful. They were created using pencil and watercolor and the effect is simply beautiful. I was amazed at how skillfully and spot-on illustrator Amy Bates captured Julia's expression and posture!

Author Susanna Reich loved watching The French Chef as a child. She was "entranced by Julia's energy, sense of humor and unapologetic enthusiasm for cooking and eating." as so many of us were.

Reich had the honor of meeting Julia in 1993 when she designed the floral decorations as well as Julia's official birthday present for her  80th birthday party.

Some years later, when Reich began writing children's books Julia "lurked in the back of her mind as someone she would like to write about."

After reading Julia's memoir, My Life In France and discovering that Julia had a cat named Minette, that became the inspiration for this wonderful book.

Minette tells what it is like to smell and taste the many culinary delights that came from Julia's kitchen and describes them in a way that will be intriguing to children and adults alike. It brings back to life in a most unique and charming way the iconic Julia Child and introduces her to a new generation of "foodies."

From Minette's Feast:
"Une maison sans chat, c'est la vie sans soleil!"
"A house without a cat is like life without sunshine!"

and if the world of cooking hadn't had Julia Child, it would have been equally as dark.

If you have children or not, if you love cats, all things French, culinary and Julia Child, pick up this delightfully written and lovingly illustrated book, it is certain to satisfy!

"Bon Appe'tit!"

ISBN: 1-4197-0177-0
EAN: 9781419701771

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: From Abrams Books:
Susanna Reich is an award-winning author of many fiction and nonfiction books. She lives in Ossining, New York. Visit Amy Bates is the illustrator of The Dog Who Belonged to No One and Bear in the Air. She splits her time between the United States and Tokyo

Friday, December 28, 2012

Part II of: "The Highlight Of My Year"

Thanks to everyone who read Part I of The Highlight Of My Year, in case you missed it, you can read it right here!  For those waiting for Part II, wait no more!

Thursday morning October 4th found approx 15 sleepy bloggers boarding a bus to head off to the Nestle Purina PetCare Company (NPPC) headquarters.

Purina Headquarters
Photo courtesy of Nestle Purina PetCare

When we entered the headquarters we were greeted by the Board Of Directors:
"The Board Of Directors"
Hey! What's Dakota doing there?
Photo courtesy of Nestle Purina PetCare

There were also a number of TV screens that had images of all of our blog headers/logos going across the screen! It was beyond cool!

Photo courtesy of Nestle Purina PetCare

Then we made our way to the conference room area where we enjoyed a delicious breakfast.

Resident Cat "Rocki"
Lounging on the Purina "Coffee Table"
Photo courtesy of Nestle Purina PetCare
We then entered the conference room where we listened to presentations from various people at Purina who were brought in by Gordon Wade who is the Director of Marketing for Purina. The various speakers  spoke to us about:

Manufacturing overview did you know that safety and quality are a few of their top concerns? Purina will not  buy from a supplier without inspecting first. Every load of ingredients that comes to the factory is inspected. 98% of what Purina sells is made at the Purina factory.
History of Nestle Purina
Pet Welfare a speaker that warmed my heart was Brenda Bax who is a Director in Purina's Marketing Team and is responsible for Purina's work to build a better community with and for pets. Her responsibilities include Purina's Pets For People initiative, where Purina works to provide support to the pet welfare industry.

Being from Michigan I was proud to learn that The Michigan Humane Society is partnered with Purina. One example of the fine work that Purina is doing and how they have helped Michigan Humane was written about on Dakota's blog: PURINA DOG CHOW GIVES THE GIFT OF HOPE FOR MICHIGAN ANIMALS IN NEED where Purina donated HUNDREDS of pounds of food to help the Michigan Humane Free Pet Food Bank (which helps provide food for needy families who can't afford it for their pets.)

Photo courtesy of Nestle Purina PetCare

I was in sheer bliss!
Photo courtesy of Nestle Purina PetCare

I was blown away by so many things about Purina that it would take me TONS of blog posts to cover everything. One of many things that I adore about Purina are the values that the company adheres to, they call them:

The Five Tails

The "Five Tails" are used to reference Nestle Purina's values as an organization. From Purina:

"the term "tails" has a rich history in the Purina culture. The company's founder, William H. Danforth believed each person has not one, but four lives to live. A man's ingredients for life, he said, are a body, a mind, a personality and character, and all four must grow in balance with each other. These values--Integrity, Passion, Expertise and Performance--were known as the "Four Tails" the fifth "tail", "Innovation" was added in 2009 to demonstrate Nestle Purinas commitment to value, expect and promote curiosity and innovative thinking in their associates." Here are "The Five Tails"

We Stand Tall With Integrity
We Smile Tall With Passion
We Think Tall With Expertise
We Live Tall With Performance
We Create Tall With Innovation

The presentations were wonderful and we learned so much, but the "presenter" who stole the show was "Rocki", as well as their other resident kitty "Ava!"
Me kissing "Rocki"
who looks less than thrilled
Photo courtesy of Nestle Purina PetCare

"Ava" asleep in the conference room
Photo courtesy of Nestle Purina PetCare

Then...we were off on a tour of the campus!

Dog Topiary on the Purina Campus
Photo courtesy of Nestle Purina PetCare
Feeding Fish at the Koi Pond on campus!
Photo courtesy of Nestle Purina PetCare

Koi Pond on the Purina campus
Photo courtesy of Nestle Purina PetCare
Now do you see why it took me so long to post about this amazing trip? And...I am STILL not done! It appears that I will be adding "Part III" Stay tuned......

Disclosure: Nestle Purina PetCare completely paid for my trip, accommodations, travel, etc. All opinions are my own.

The Highlight Of My Year...Part I

It is hard to believe that another year has passed. Remember when you were a child and five minutes seemed to be an eternity? Now an entire year seems to have passed in only five minutes!

Overall 2012 was a good year, Cody and I are grateful that so many of you take the time to visit us and we thank you for your comments which always make us smile. We appreciate each and every one of you!

In 2011 the highlight of my year was attending The BlogPaws Conference which was held in Tysons Corner Virginia (where BlogPaws 2013 will be held!)
Click here to learn more

 The BlogPaws 2012 Conference which was held  in Salt Lake City, Utah, was supposed to be one of my main highlights of the  year, but due to my kidney stones clamoring for attention and forcing me to cancel my plans to attend the conference at the last second, it wasn't to be.

What WAS the highlight of 2012 was my having attended the "Meet Purina"  Blogger Summit that was held the first week of October in St. Louis. (For those that may not know, I am a member of the Purina Cat Blogger Panel, and I am also a member of the Purina Dog Blogger Panel). Why am I FINALLY writing about this fantastic experience  NOW? I told you! The year passed in five minutes and it seems as if I attended that event only last week!
Photo Courtesy of
“Nestlé Purina PetCare”

I knew that Meet Purina was going to be incredible from the moment the emails from Dan Koehler, (one of Purina's  Marketing and Public Relations aces) began. Every travel arrangement was made and paid for by Purina, the process flowed without a hitch!

When I landed in St.Louis, I was greeted by my own driver! I got the biggest kick out of seeing my name on a sign and being escorted to the ritzy Lincoln Town Car that would be my "ride."

I was then transported to the even more ritzy Four Seasons Hotel St. Louis where my accommodations were better than the condo that I live in!
My room. This photo doesn't
do it justice
There was a glass desk/table for a laptop
a coffee setup and flat screen TV

Everyone was raving
about the bathroom!
It was spectacular!
Check out the
rainwater shower!

The tub was sooo deep!
I am still upset that I
wasn't there long enough to use it.
YES I washed! In the shower!

I hurried to attend a rooftop "Meet & Greet" where one of the first people that I was FINALLY able to meet IN PERSON was Terry of Brian's Home. You know how we all only know each other by our cats? I constantly kept referring to Terry as "Brian." He responded graciously each time while my face turned scarlet with embarrassment!

8th floor of the Four Seasons
Outdoor reception
See the famous St.Louis Arch
in the background?
Terry (Brian's Home)
and one of Purina's
resident cats:

The "Meet & Greet" was fabulous! I reconnected with some of my favorite people, Angie of Catladyland, Dorian of Your Daily Cute and I also FINALLY met the incredible Janiss, from Sparkle Cat!

Finally met from left to right:Jamie and Janiss
reconnected with Angie and Dorian!
Left to right: Dorian, Angie, Jaime, Janiss and Me!

I was thrilled to meet Jaime Lynn Smith  from Thoughts Fur Paws and spent a great deal of time chatting with her, actually Jaime and I became fast friends, we spent most of our time laughing and chatting together!
Jaime Lynn Smith and I
photo courtesy of Angie Bailey
and a few others were hers too I think!
I was also thrilled to re-connect with Tamar of I Have Cat, Stephanie of Catsparella, Felissa of Two Little Cavaliers, Paris of Cat Tipper and Dog Tipper, Diane of To Dog With Love (I was  deeply saddened to learn of the loss of her beloved Cosmo and send my  most heartfelt sympathy.)

This post was just the tip of the iceberg! Stay tuned!!

I will be posting The Highlight Of My Year...Part II soon!!! 

Disclosure: Purina completely paid for my trip, accommodations, etc. All opinions are my own.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Winners! Fancy Feast Mug Give-Away!!

A HUGE thank you to everyone who entered!!

The winners of the Fancy Feast/Cat Chat mug are: