Posted in Random

Back-to-School Sale at Pumpkins & Poetry!

Happy August, everyone!

(I can say that because right now August is not acting like August. It’s 72 degrees and raining here in Austin, which might be a sign of the end of the world, but I don’t care because it’s nice.)

Anyway…

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Earlier this summer, I opened an Etsy shop called Pumpkins & Poetry, where I sell decorated journals, fortune-telling games, various objects featuring my cat’s picture, and a few vintage collectibles. If you’re shopping for school supplies, teacher gifts, or a new something snazzy for yourself, you’re in luck because this month I’m having a back-to-school sale! Until September 1, 2017, all you have to do is enter the code BACKTOSCHOOL at checkout, and you’ll receive 15% off your entire order.

Here are a few of my featured items:

* Decorated Journals

These hardback, 190-page notebooks are perfect for writers, teachers, students, and obsessive list-makers like myself. Each design is one of a kind, so if you see one you like, grab it before someone else does!

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“8 Signs You’re a Teacher” Journal – $10 + shipping

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“To Do List” Journal – $10 + shipping

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“Question Everything” Journal – $10 + shipping

To see all my decorated journals, click here

* Toby Gear

Toby is a sweet, adorable, drooly ball of snuggles with a lot of cattitude. He enjoys napping on the couch, posting on Facebook when I’m not looking, and typing cryptic messages into the novel I’m working on. He also looks great on t-shirts and mugs.

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Toby T-shirt – $17 + shipping

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Toby Coffee Mug – $14 + shipping

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Toby Journal – $10 + shipping

For more Toby gear, click here.

* Other Cool Stuff

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  • Need a daily dose of advice? Shop my homemade fortune-telling devices and never leave the house again without knowing what the world has in store for you!
  • Looking to add a touch of nostalgia to your kitchen or office decor? Choose from this collection of vintage cloth calendars from the 70s.
  • Did you know Halloween is less than three months away?! Start your costume-planning now with one of these spooky pocket notebooks.

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Thanks for visiting Pumpkins & Poetry! Don’t forget the BACKTOSCHOOL coupon code when you check out. The 15% off sale ends on September 1st, so hurry! 🙂

Posted in Life, Poetry

Get a Cat (or Don’t)

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Cats are such a joy.

Usually.

On one hand, they’re adorable.

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* Love *

And they provide hours of entertainment both in the form of comedy…

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“Mama, I ate ALL the catnip!”

…and drama.

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The Six Stages of a Relationship

But they can also be needy…

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“Could you bring me a beer?”

…and creepy…

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She seems to be waiting for something to come out from under the couch. (!!!)

…and owning a cat often means waking up to this:

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“Good morning. I’ve been grooming your hair while you sleep.”

It’s a tough choice.

Maybe this poem, first published by the Poetry Society of Texas in A Book of the Year 2016, will help you decide if you need a cat. (Or not.)

Get a Cat (or Don’t)
* a series of haiku *

Why you should get a
cat: Explanation for all
those mid-night noises.

Why you shouldn’t get
a cat: The increased number
of mid-night noises.

When the cat doesn’t
help: You hear a noise… the cat’s
sleeping beside you.

When the cat makes it
worse: You hear nothing… the cat
hisses anyway.

Worst possible case:
There is a ghost… the cat likes
it better than you.

What should you do? Get
rid of the cat—problem solved.
Wait… what was that noise?

© Carie Juettner
First place in the Poetry Society of Texas Fill in the Blanks Award, 2015

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Need a mug with my cat’s mug on it? Or a semi-political cat t-shirt?
Visit my Etsy Shop and click on Toby Gear.

Posted in Life, Lists

6 Tricks Pet Owners Will Love

I’m not talking about sit, stay, and roll over. These tricks will save you time, money, and sanity.

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Our Story:

In 2010, my husband and I got married. We formed a blended family. He came to the relationship with two cats, and so did I. Our cats were pretty old.* We loved them all.** But we knew, realistically, that they wouldn’t be with us for much longer.***

* We only THOUGHT our cats were old. It turns out, they were just middle-aged.
** I loved them all. My husband loved two and a half of them.
*** We were wrong. So wrong.

For our one year anniversary, we got a puppy.

Six years have passed. We’re still married. We still have our dog and all four of our cats. The oldest cat is 17 and a half. The youngest is 14. The dog is 5.

In case you’re not keeping up with the math, that’s 2 cats + 2 cats = 4 cats + 1 dog = 5 pets = 5 pet mouths (requiring feeding, often prone to vomiting), 5 pet butts (doing what pet butts do best), 10 pet ears (for ignoring our verbal commands), 20 pet legs (perfect for tracking mud, clawing furniture, and being sat upon by unwary humans), and 1,000,000,000,000 pet hairs (to be spread in every space, container, nook, cranny, appliance, and orifice, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year for 6 years****).

**** and counting.

How to Stay Married in a House Full of Pets

We live in a house with four indoor cats and one mostly-indoor, sixty-pound dog. It’s like a zoo but with fewer cages and more chaos. The lolling tongues and wagging tails and cute cat naps and furry snuggles definitely help, but cleaning up after these adorable creatures is exhausting, and maintaining a living space that’s suitable for both the animals and their human companions can be a challenge.

Here are a few things that have helped us preserve a moderate level of sanity.

Level 1: BASIC

Trick #1: The marinade is the key.

Problem: Cat toys are expensive and the allure wears off too quickly.
Solution: Marinate in catnip.

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There’s no need to buy new cat toys when all the good smells wear off the old ones. Just buy a bag of catnip and marinate the old toys in it. The longer they’re in there, the better, so I keep one or two toys in the catnip at all times and periodically switch them out.

Catnip toys keep cats happy. Happy cats are less likely to knock random objects off your desk.*****

***** not actually proven

Trick #2: This weapon will be called… the FURMINATOR.

Problem: HAIR and lots of it
Solution: The FURMINATOR

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These grooming tools are not cheap, but they actually work. Five minutes of brushing your cat or dog with this brush and you’ll remove so much hair and undercoat you won’t believe it. It truly does reduce shedding and hairballs.

We have this one for the dog and this one for the cats.

The only catch is, you actually have to USE it, which I sometimes forget to do.

Level 2: ADVANCED

Trick #3: A Litter Box Fit for a King

Problem: Litter everywhere and/or outside-of-box peeing
Solution: Large plastic storage bins

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No, I don’t know why my cat sometimes puts his stuffed toy in the litter box. That’s an issue for another blog post.

Some of our cats won’t use the enclosed litter boxes with the lids, and those can be a pain to clean anyway. But if we remove the lid, the cats kick litter EVERYWHERE or do that annoying thing where they hang their butt over the edge to pee. So we bought tall plastic storage bins and cut “doors” in them instead. These are our litter boxes.

They’re not the prettiest things in the world, but… it’s not like we show them off to people anyway. (Until now.) The high sides keep the litter in, but they’re still easy to clean because of the open top. Plus, they’re cheaper than most litter boxes and easy to replace.

Trick #4: What Lies Beneath

Problem: Hair, drool, and that all-encompassing DOG STINK on your furniture
Solution: Treat your dog like a baby.

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We let our dog get on the furniture, in moderation, meaning we gave him one section of the couch (the largest section, for some reason) and some space on the bed in my office. When he was a puppy, simply putting down a towel or blanket for him to lay on was sufficient to keep the cushions and bedding underneath clean. But now that he’s a full-grown, sixty-pound, hairy, smelly DOG (who we love) one thin layer between him and the furniture isn’t enough. His stink seeps in, especially when he licks himself or chews on his toys or drools because we’re eating pizza and won’t give him any.

I got tired of washing the quilt and the couch cushion covers over and over, so I looked for a better solution, and I found one: crib pads.

For just $10-$20 you can buy a thin, washable, waterproof pad to go between your dog blanket and your couch or bed. It works SO WELL. Now Uno can shed and drool and chew all he wants, and the moisture and odor won’t reach the furniture. To make the space suitable for human use, I just have to remove the blanket and pad. Er… and the dog.

Note: Our cat has also thrown up on the dog’s couch cushion, and the blanket/crib pad combo kept that from reaching the upholstery too.

Level 3: EXTREME MEASURES

Trick #5: Location, Location, Location

Problem: One cat terrorizes the rest of the household.
Solution: Move cat to his own apartment.

Gink, in a sink.
Gink, in a sink.

I have a 17-and-a-half-year-old black cat named Gink who I got when he was just a baby. I love him very, very much. He’s very, very special.

He’s also a recovering holy terror.

Gink has mellowed out a lot in his senior years. If you met him today, you might not believe that he used to terrorize friends, family members, vets, pet sitters, and dogs. But he did, and he was quite good at it.

When we formed our family of 7 (cat, cat, cat, cat, dog, human, human) in 2011, things were a bit rocky, and most of the blame was aimed at Gink. He terrorized one of the other cats, he showed aggression toward the dog, and he peed everywhere. Things were rough.

I could list all the (many) things we tried that failed to remedy the situation, but instead I’ll skip to the end. Eventually, through trial and error, research, and a well-timed episode of My Cat From Hell (Season 4, Episode 3: “Penny Hates Puck”), we figured out the truth: Gink doesn’t want roommates. He doesn’t want other cats hanging around, flaunting their catness in his face. He doesn’t want a dog following him around. (Seriously. Gink used to get mad just because Uno was walking behind him.) And he really, REALLY doesn’t want to share a litter box.

The solution was unavoidable. Gink needed to move to his own place.

So we got him an apartment. In our house. Gink now lives in our master bedroom & bathroom suite. The rest of the pets live in the rest of the house. We, the humans, inhabit both sides. We keep the door between the two areas closed at all times. Gink has his own litter box, his own food and water bowls, his own toys, his own bed.

If this seems like an extreme measure, it is. But it works. EVERYONE is happier. It’s amazing how much more relaxed our other pets are now that Gink isn’t around to traumatize them, and I don’t have to constantly clean up cat pee. Plus, Gink is happier too. He loves having his own space. He lives like a king.

That’s not to say he doesn’t sometimes try to get out. Once in a while, he scoots past me into the rest of the house. When that happens, the other cats freeze, and I tiptoe after my escaped panther until I can safely scoop him up and return him to his abode, usually with much hissing. Then I close the door and everyone breathes a sigh of relief once more.

I will say it again. Gink is special.

Trick #6: Deny everything.

Problem: Guests.
Solution: Lie.

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Zora, cleaning her feet where I normally eat breakfast.

Despite all your preparations, there will still come a time when you have guests over and one of your pets decides to:

A) Steal a slice of cheese off the kitchen counter
B) Take a bath on the dining room table
C) Hack up a hairball on the living room rug
D) Eat a corner of the curtain
E) Sharpen their claws on a leather purse
F) All of the above

When that happens, your best line of defense is denial. Look your beloved pet in the eye and say, “What the heck do you think you’re doing? You’ve never done anything like this before! Stop it! Stop it right now!” Ignore the fact that your pet is gazing back at you, confused and bewildered, wondering why something which was perfectly fine yesterday is causing you such stress today. Later, when the guests leave, you can give your pet a treat and apologize and tell him he’s a very good boy.

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If you have any pet tricks you’d like to share… Oops—gotta go. I hear the song of the hairball.