Saturday, November 29, 2014

Our Top 12 Small Business Product Picks For 2014 #shopsmall

Hi every one and Happy Day After Thanksgiving!
Guess what?
Saturday, November 29th is

I am not one who loves shopping AT ALL, never have, never will. Back in the days before computers I ALWAYS preferred shopping in "Mom and Pop" stores, or small boutiques that to me were gold mines when it came to finding items that I wouldn't see everyone and their Mama (or Papa) having or wearing. I have always been drawn to things that are unique, and that are often much better crafted than mainstream products found in every large chain store in the land.

Small Business Saturday is one of my favorite days! It was created by American Express back in 2010 for the sole purpose of encouraging people to shop small businesses the day after Black Friday, (a day that I will NEVER in life participate in).

Throughout 2014 Cody and I have done A LOT of product reviews, and today, we would like to feature some of our favorites from 2014 that were created by SMALL BUSINESSES!  (To see products that we loved from larger businesses, visit us the week of December 8th for our Holiday Gift Guide!)

For the purpose of this post, I am  featuring our small business faves, with their name, a photo of the product and a link to our previous reviews, which you can visit to learn about each product by clicking their name! ( Many of these earlier reviews included give-aways which obviously have ended. Also, this is ONLY a list of SOME of our favorites and ONLY feature products that we showcased in 2014. There are many other small business products that we love, but if we didn't feature them in 2014, they did not make the "cut"). Enjoy and if you are looking for gifts this holiday season, give them a holler! Sit back and enjoy!!

CAT (and small dog) BEDS

SMARTCATCHER the "Unordinary" Cat Litterbox  Mat!

 The Petter™ Planner!  It's an  organizer, and 
scrapbook all in one! 
Item in photo may no longer be available
Visit their website for MORE
Cat (and Dog) Jewelry!
Custom Body Pillows
Cat Greeting Cards From The Paper Cat

Jewelry Keepsakes
Emma's Pet Portraits, Studio Emma Kaufmann
"Starry Starry Cody"
Purr Baby's Memento Book by Elizabeth Parker
Pawz "N" Clawz Unique Handmade Jewelry
The Googie Cat Bed
Royal Cat Boutique
Like what you see?
Get shopping!
Remember to "Shop Small!"

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Got Bird? Happy Thanksgiving!

Because this year we are not in a saccharin mood,
we just wanted to give you all a little chuckle......

Personalize funny videos and birthday eCards at JibJab!

Smiling? GOOD!!! That was what we hoped for! Thanks for taking time out of your busy days to visit us throughout the year. Cody and I are  THANKFUL for all the blessings we have, and for ALL of YOU!

Comments have been disabled, enjoy your day!

Monday, November 24, 2014

Royal Cat Boutique is Purrfect for the "Cat Formerly Known As Prince" Give-Away!

Hi and Happy Meowy Monday All!

It's Cody, and today I am honored to introduce you to some new furiends of mine, Royal Cat Boutique.

 Many of you know that my name is Cody, but I am also known as the "cat formerly known as Prince."   Yep that's right! My first name was "Prince" when Mom  met me at an adoption drive. Many people,  especially my Dad, think that my name should have remained Prince due to my love of sitting on high-backed chairs and my love of luxury!

When Mom first showed me the Royal Cat Boutique website I purred with delight! The Royal Cat Boutique is purrfect for a luxury lovin' cat like me!

I was excited when I was presented with the opportunity of reviewing one of Royal Cat Boutique's quality  products, the Kitty Treadmill
The Kitty Treadmill

but then I began to think, were they trying to tell me, Cody, "The Cat Formerly Known as Prince" that I am FAT!? 

 Being a bag of catnip is half FULL kind of a guy, I decided NOT to be insulted. I realized that my need to scratch is INSTINCTIVE. Scratching helps me keep my claws sharp.

It also encourages me to  stretch and flex my manly kitty body!!

 Using the Kitty Treadmill, helps to keep me in shape and healthy! Combining contemporary shapes with stylish patterns, the Kitty Treadmill is a modern twist on conventional scratchers. The Kitty Treadmill provides me  with a corrugated scratching surface, and it helps keep me from scratching Mom's black dining room chairs, which makes HER happy too! The Kitty Treadmill can be used leaning against something, (as shown above), or it can lie flat, (see below) It is light, which makes it easy to transport and to store!

The Kitty Treadmill
Comes in 3 different colors!


    • Encourages positive scratching
    • Is Made with long lasting sisal; the material recognized for it's long lasting endurance
    • No shredded cardboard mess
    • Frame Material: Wood
    • Exterior Dimensions: 18"L x 10"W

Royal Cat Boutique specializes in handcrafting, durable, exceptionally solid, luxury cat furniture!  Royal Cat Boutique takes pride in making furniture that our humans are proud to show off in their homes, and that kitties LOVE! I just received my Kitty Treadmill last week, so I just started using it. I can stay I LOVE doing my scratching in style! The Kitty Treadmill is fit for a King,  Queen or even a PRINCE!!!  Or even a cat named CODY!!

Take a look at another one of my faves!
The "Royal Davenport"

Royal Davenport
Handmade, the Royal Davenport by Royal Cat Boutique is soft and cozy, creating a great spot for your cat or small dog to nap. The faux leather outside is stylish, and micro terry faux fur inside ensures comfort. 

Kitties! Today is your lucky day! My new furiends at Royal Cat Boutique are offering THREE of my furiends who reside in the U.S.A  the chance to win a Kitty Treadmill of their own! (A $35 value). Entering is easy! Just use the Rafflecopter below, the winner will be announced on December 17th. Good luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

In Full Disclosure:This is a sponsored post. I received a Kitty Treadmill to try out (it arrived last week!) and compensation for the review/give-away. Being compensated in NO WAY influenced my opinion of the Kitty Treadmill. All opinions are my own. I only feature products that I have, used, would use, or that I feel will be of interest to my readers!

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Snarky Selfie Sunday

Last Sunday I arrived home from having spent a few days in Ft.Lauderdale where I attended the Miami-Ft.Lauderdale Pet Expo.

My husband had told me that Cody seemed to miss me more than usual this trip, (maybe because I had just been away in Atlanta a mere week and a half before that?

Cody conveyed his displeasure with me with this snarky selfie, this was taken not long after I arrived home. I wasn't thrilled with the color, etc, so I added a Vintage touch from

Happy to be a part of the Sunday Selfie Blog Hop hosted by:
Click to visit!

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Had A Pawtastic Time at the Novi Pet Expo And YOU Will too!

This is DEFINITELY the month of the Pet Expo! A week ago I was lucky enough to attend the Miami-Ft.Lauderdale Pet Expo and Friday I attended the:

The Novi Pet Expo began yesterday and is taking place today until 8pm and tomorrow from 11am til 5pm! Well-behaved canine citizens are welcome with proof of current vaccination status—but NO retractable leashes, please!

 Admission $10.00 Adults, Children 6-12, $5.00
 5 and Under, Free!
Parking is $5.00
  Saturday 10 am-8 pm, Sunday, 11am-5 pm 
For an Expo Schedule
click here
(times are subject to change!)

I was lucky enough to have two free tickets given to me for featuring the Expo on my blog a few weeks ago but even if I wasn't comped tickets, it is well worth the price of admission!

The Novi Pet Expo is MUCH larger than the one I attended in Florida last week. When my husband and I first arrived I stopped to say hi to a couple of the volunteers from Michigan Humane:

Then I was greeted by the BIGGEST "Pet Superstore" imaginable!

You could find virtually anything and everything at the Super Store as well as at the booths set up around the Expo.

My pal from  Purina wasn't there but I met some new furiends from Purina that WERE there! (Purina was one of the sponsors).

There were all sorts of animals there from reptiles to parrots, horses and cows!!!

As my husband and I made our way around the venue, we were greeted by one of my "bonus daughters", Marla,  who happens to work for a local rescue here in Michigan called "Almost Home".  She was with Lauren, (the daughter of the owner of Almost Home, who also works for the rescue. I had blogged about Lauren and her mother in 2011, you can read the entire post here ) 

Lauren and my "Bonus" Daughter, Marla
Me, Marla and my husband, Lenny
There were a large number of rescues present at the Expo, most were dog-centric, but we DID see a number of cats that were available for adoption. (I didn't allow myself to linger long at their cages, because I just can't handle not being able to take them ALL home!)

Wait til you see the adorable kittens featured below, I stumbled into the photo op of the century!

 The Tabby on the left was vigorously/relentlessly grooming the black kitty on the right and the black kitty wasn't phased in the least!  Even with all of the nipping and bunny kicking that took place, the black kitty accepted the "lovin", and seemed to relish every second of it!

It was seriously the CUTEST EVER!!

I immensely enjoyed walking around and meeting and speaking with some of the vendors that were there. A few of the booths were already decked out for Christmas:

 Speaking of Christmas. If you live in Michigan and are looking for gifts for the pet lovers in your family, the Novi Pet Expo is DEFINITELY the place to go! Here are a a few of my favorite vendors:

The above items are items that I purchased from Small Paws, Jewelry for Pet People a division of:

From their Etsy Shop:
River Wolfe Art Jewelry is know for high quality handmade jewelry. Many of our beads are handmade with great attention to detail and design. We're known to many Animal Rescue Organizations, Dog and Cat Organizations and Animal Lovers for our Small Paws line of Pet Themed Jewelry, you'll find other designs that incorporate Love, Hope, Peace and Whimsy throughout our store as well
Had  lovely time speaking with the owner at her booth!

We make jewelry that reflects who you are.

We've been making and selling polymer clay jewelry for over 10 years, our main venues are art festivals in Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, New York and Pennsylvania.

As I made my way around the Expo there were even MORE items that I fell in love with! Below are some delectable oils that I purchased from

They also make all natural soy candles that they make right here in Michigan! I was in complete ecstasy when I was sniffing their myriad of scents! Many of them smelled good enough to eat! I bought a Almond Cherry candle that is to die for!

I thought it was brilliant for a candle/oil artisan to be present at a Pet Expo. Pet people are often paranoid that their homes smell like pets and are often seeking a way to disguise the fact that pets reside in the home.

Last but DEFINITELY NOT LEAST I ran into my old buddy Deb, from:

Who I first featured on this blog back in January of 2012!!  It was like "old home" day seeing her again! We embraced like long lost buds and made plans to reconnect in early 2015. Deb makes unique, HIGH QUALITY, "upscale apparel for pet parents!" Her designs are amazing, you should check them out, they make great gifts for the holidays, but trust me, you WILL see her again in early 2015!!!

Deb and my husband, Lenny

It appears I wasn't the ONLY one who was interested in doing some holiday shopping, while speaking to Deb, I looking across the aisle and who did I see? It  appears that this gentleman was either ordering online or do you think he was checking his list of "Who is naughty and nice?" 

"Santa" checking his iphone?
He didn't even notice
that I took this pic!
"Zooms" are great!
You can meet Santa and everyone else that I mentioned plus many more if you head out to the Novi Pet Expo!!! It is a MUST see event!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

A Gratitude Attitude

FROM CAT CHAT WITH CAREN AND CODY:This is a guest post by Nancy Peterson, Cat Programs Manager for The Humane Society of the United States. We thank Nancy as always for her superb contributions to our blog!

What comes to mind when you think about Thanksgiving – food, football, Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, Black Friday? I think of Samantha, a cat I’ve cared for since 2010. She’s usually waiting when I arrive with food and fresh water. In the four years I have  cared for Samantha, she’s never come closer than about ten feet. That’s because Samantha is a feral cat who is too afraid of people to be handled or adopted into a home. When I first learned about Samantha, she was living on scraps in a busy parking lot. Although many lost cats find their way home on their own, I concluded after several days that Samantha didn’t have a home and needed a helping hand.

Photo Courtesy of Nancy Peterson

In order not to draw attention to either of us, I started to feed her every day in a discrete location. I also provided fresh water and a shelter to protect her from the weather. One morning, after about two weeks, instead of bringing food, I brought a trap. I knew she would have to be hungry to overcome her fear of going in, so I put some yummy treats in the far end of the trap and set it. I then went to my car and waited. It wasn’t long before I heard the trap door shut. I quickly approached and covered the trap with a sheet to help calm Samantha.

Photo Courtesy of
Kathy Milani

I was glad I caught her in the morning so I could bring her directly to a veterinary clinic where she was spayed, vaccinated against rabies and distemper, dewormed, treated for fleas, and ear tipped. If I had trapped her in the evening when the clinic was closed, I would have had to keep her in a safe, warm place, such as my bathroom or garage until the clinic opened the next morning.

Photo Courtesy of  Erin Parker

Samantha was alert when I picked her up from the clinic at the end of the day, but I kept her overnight in her covered trap in my garage to be sure she had no problems after her surgery, like bleeding. When I returned Samantha to her outdoor home the next morning, she dashed out of her trap and disappeared. She appeared after a few days and we resumed our feeding routine. Like hundreds of thousands of dedicated individuals, I am a feral cat caretaker who practices Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR).

As a cat owner, I am thankful for veterinarians, organizations, and agencies that provide low-cost spay/neuter services for pets. As a feral cat caretaker, I am thankful for veterinarians, organizations, and agencies that help community (feral and stray) cats, municipal leaders who support TNR in their communities, and other community cat caretakers.

If you’re feeding a community cat who only approaches you when he or she is extremely hungry, will only eat once you have moved away or he or she is still unapproachable and cannot be touched after several days of feeding, the cat is probably feral. If the cat is friendly and approaches you for attention, meows, or eats the food you put down right away, the cat is probably not feral by temperament, but rather a stray cat. Stray cats have usually had contact with people. Some may be able to be reunited with their family. Others with no known owner may be able to be adopted into homes. There are an estimated 30 to 40 million community cats in the United States and approximately two percent of them are spayed or neutered. Related females and their offspring usually live together in a group called a colony, and they share a common food source – a trash can, a dumpster behind a restaurant, or trash. Sometimes cats are solitary, such as Samantha.
Many caring people who see hungry cats begin to feed them. Unfortunately, some people who feed cats don’t realize there will soon be too many mouths to feed unless the cats are spayed or neutered. Access to TNR helps prevent the birth and death of unwanted kittens and reduces the number of community cats.

Photo Courtesy of
Krista Rakovan

If you or someone you know is feeding community cats, thank you. The next step is to find an organization that helps community cats and get them sterilized, vaccinated, and ear tipped as soon as possible. This will help prevent diseases that are transmitted from mother to kittens and between fighting and mating, resulting in healthier cats.. In addition, nuisance behaviors like yowling, fighting, and spraying stinky urine will be decreased or eliminated, making you and the cats better neighbors. This will also please officials and property owners because they’ll have fewer nuisance complaints to deal with. There are also humane deterrents that can be used to discourage cats from entering places they’re not wanted and since there will be fewer cats, there will be less predation on wildlife. Feeding strategies are also a way to avoid attracting wildlife and keep birds safe at feeders.
If you see an outdoor cat, look to see if the tip of one ear has been surgically removed or notched – this means that cat has been sterilized and vaccinated. If not, look for a local TNR group, organization, or agency that provides sterilization, vaccination, and ear tipping by using our online map of community cat service providers. If you have cats at home, you can help reduce the number of outdoor cats by spaying or neutering your own cats before they can reproduce at four months of age. If cost is an issue, look for a low-cost spay/neuter provider.

Thanksgiving is a time to appreciate all the good things in our lives. To caretakers, Thanksgiving means a reduction in the number of community cats. To animal shelters and rescue groups, it means decreased intake and euthanasia of cats. To fortunate cats, it means a full tummy and a place to rest. Thank you for helping animals, especially community cats, and Happy Thanksgiving from Samantha and me!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Florida Fun, Family and Fur!

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Rachael Ray Nutrish.   As always, thank you for reading and supporting our sponsors.

Sitting here writing this post in a sweatshirt, hat,  and jean jacket, freezing my butt off is making me long for the warm temperatures and picture-perfect sunshine that I left behind when I departed fabulous Ft.Lauderdale after spending three days there thanks to Rachael Ray Nutrish. The objective of the trip was to attend the one day Miami-Ft.Lauderdale Pet Expo that took place Saturday, November 15th, but since I have family in both Plantation and Miami, I added a couple of days on to enable me to spend at least a little bit of time with them. To those (which includes MOST everyone), who are sitting and freezing as I am, sit back, relax, grab a beverage and enjoy some photos that just might warm you up a bit!

I arrived Thursday, November 13th at 5pm and was greeted at the airport by my sister-in-law, Nancy, who resides in Plantation. Nancy brought me to the Sheraton Ft.Lauderdale Beach Hotel where I would be enjoying the next few days.

The hotel has everything you could ever want, a bar, restaurant, coffee shop, gift shop, pool, a Zen garden and more. It was a high energy, bustling venue full of folks who were either leaving for cruises or just enjoying the Florida sunshine.

My brother and sister-in-law, (Glenn and Wanda),  who reside in Miami, were scheduled to arrive Friday morning to spend the day with me. I only get to see them every couple of years, so I was excited beyond belief to see them again. 

When I arrived the day before, it was dark and I never realized that the beach was right outside of the hotel. When I met Glenn and Wanda on Friday, this is what greeted me!

The day was a day that would make the Florida Chamber of Commerce proud. Low humidity, a gentle breeze, the temperature stayed at a steady 80 degrees (warming up yet?) the entire day.

We spent our time together, talking, laughing, walking the beach, and taking selfies!

My brother, Glenn, my sister-in-law, Wanda and me!
Glenn and I
We had a fabulous lunch at Bahia Cabana Waterfront Restaurant and Patio Bar  and later an equally superb dinner at the Islamorada Fish Company Restaurant in Dania Beach, Florida.  Eating fish at every meal was a real treat, there is NOTHING like eating fish in a state with an ocean, it is fresh and delightful, unlike the fish we get up North!

All too soon they had to head back to Miami, I missed them the second they pulled out of the parking lot and vowed that it would NOT take me another two years to visit them again!

Friday morning I took a cab to the Ft.Lauderdale Convention Center where the Expo was held.  The center is HUGE and the grounds are just beautiful.

The inside hallway was beautiful as well, MUCH prettier than the venue that I will visit this Friday when I attend the Novi Pet Expo here in Michigan.

No sooner did I enter the Expo (which had less vendors than I had anticipated, but it in NO WAY took away from the incredible time that I had there meeting and speaking with vendors and rescues. A number of the vendors you will see featured on our blog over the next few months), than I literally shrieked and jumped up and down like a little kid when my eyes spotted the GORGEOUS and sweet Deb Barnes and Christine Michaels at their booth promoting their rescue Pawsitively Humane, Inc.

I laughed my head off when Deb spotted me and yelled "Caren Gittleman what in the HELL are YOU doing here??!!" It was such a hoot and a complete delight to be able to connect with two of my most favorite and greatly loved cat women!!

The Expo (as is the case with many other pet events), was quite "dog-centric", (hence the few photos that were taken of the actual event, you can see more photos on Dakota's blog on Thursday), but there were of course, MANY rescue groups there with some precious cats available for adoption.

I wanted to take each and every one of the cats that I saw there home with me. It broke my heart to have to leave them.

My sister-in-law, Nancy, was looking forward to meeting me at the Expo, but unfortunately, what should have been a 15 minute drive, turned into a TWO HOUR AND FIFTEEN MINUTE FIASCO where she was stuck in traffic due to an accident. Nancy had never attended an Expo and was heart broken when she FINALLY arrived and couldn't find a place to park. She picked me up outside the venue, and she was finally able to calm her frazzled nerves, that through a comedy of errors found us at Bahia Cabana Waterfront Restaurant and Patio Bar  yet again! 
Cody and Dakota were there too in Flat Pet form!

After lunch, we headed to Nancy's home in Plantation, where after I bestowed an assortment of cat toys on Cody's look-alike cousin "Oscar" and Nancy's  English Springer Spaniels, (Molly and Max), Oscar adopted ME as his new BEST friend! (I think Oscar thought I was one GIANT cat toy as well! Nancy and her husband Allan also have two other cats, Jennifer and Rosie, who  aren't as social as Oscar, and chose to not make themselves available for photos).

Me, Cody's look-alike cousin "Oscar"
and Max the English Springer Spaniel

Oscar's resemblance to Cody
is uncanny!
They both have loving
personalities as well!
While I was at Nancy's home I could NOT get this song out of my mind, I crack up every time I listen to it!

Just for the record, Cody would be Patty, and Oscar would be Cathy since he is more refined than Cody!

After a nice visit, Nancy, her husband, Allan and I headed off to a gourmet dinner that they treated me to at Casablanca Cafe in Ft.Lauderdale.

My salmon and spinach
from Casablanca Cafe
My sister-in-law Nancy and my brother-in-law Allan

The blissful time spent with family and fur, all too soon came to an end. Early Sunday morning I jetted off to the frozen tundra that is Michigan. Dakota greeted me with his usual exuberance and Cody's eyes gazed at me as if he couldn't believe I was FINALLY home. I missed my boys and smothered them in kisses and both of them have barely left my side since I have returned.

One of my favorite purchases from the Expo were two ties from Fancy Pants Pet Accessories,  (one each for Dakota and Cody),  Dakota loved his:

Cody, was a totally different story.

Finally, he had ENOUGH...

Speaking of "having had enough", if you hung in through this unusually LONG post, I THANK YOU.........I hope you enjoyed seeing the photos and sharing my experience as much as I enjoyed sharing them with you.

While the sun and warm temperatures in Florida were the best, and seeing my Florida family, and  spending time at the Expo were a complete blast, whenever I am traveling, there is a void in my heart that can only be filled when I see my precious boys again. Observing their happiness in having me home, is the best feeling ever. When I stop and give thanks this year on Thanksgiving, I will be thanking Rachael Ray Nutrish for affording me the opportunity of attending the Expo, and for my patient husband who unselfishly stayed home to take care of the boys, and my Cody and Dakota who make our home complete.  Yes, there is MUCH to give thanks for!

This was taken about an hour after I returned home, having me home and Cody having his Nutrish For Cats, is all he needs to make him happy!