27 January 2016

Catch all links from a notebook I found

Yes, that is a weird title, but I just couldn't figure out how else to categorize them. I came across an old notebook and found a pile of links that I must have found helpful at one time. Maybe they'll be helpful to someone else, and as a perk, I can now recycle the notebook.

Not surprisingly, many of the links are no longer viable. Those that were are here. 

Blue Moon Communications - Based in the Seattle area, Blue Moon Communications specializes in brand development, media training, book promotion, book tours and marketing communications for fiction authors.

Meet Up -  Neighbors getting together to learn something, do something, share something...

The Pet Staff - Locally family owned and operated since 2001, and with a select team of over 140 of the industry’s leading pet care professionals, The Pet Staff is far and away Southern California’s largest dog walking and pet sitting company. Paws down.

After the web pages, there were random notes...
  • Dairy Farm Relief - closest I can find is in Ireland. (I could live in Ireland, but not after I retire due to their pesky income laws for USA retirees.) 
  • Don't Hire Me
  • Obsessive Researcher
  • Adventure Guide for Dogs 
  • Artist 
  • Storyteller
  • Documentarian/Film Maker (What does love mean to you?) 
  • Day Trip Planner
  • Historian - turn historical sites into action movies
  • Travel Photo Portrait
  • Fix someone's life
  • Journal keeper
  • Photo party
  • Newsletter with book tips
  • Caretaker.com (mixed reviews) 

03 January 2016

Get rid of this stuff

Early digital image of a thunderstorm in Ramsey Anoka Minnesota by Kathleen Riley Circa 2011

This morning I was reading an article at Good Housekeeping and realized that some of the items on their list were things that need to go out of our small house. Here's what's up next in the "Less Is More" plan for 2016 to leave our wee space in Minnesota.

  1. Electronics - yes, I admit I have some older electronics that need to find a new home. Fortunately these items are beneficial for other folks and you'll be able to feel good about moving yours on too. No sense in storing all those old cell phones and more, check out these tips on where to donate them to people who really need them. 
  2. VHS / Cassettes / Other outdated technology- I thought I had all of this taken care of all this and then I found some more in a box that included film from my father's funeral at Fort Snelling National Cemetery. That needs to be transferred onto digital media for long term archiving. If you are looking for somewhere to take care of your transfers check out LegacyBox
  3. Books - Over the years I've had lots and lots of books and now I am down to mostly books I really love. The challenge may be how to decide what you should keep, and what you are keeping as sentimental clutter. Donate those books or if you want to make a little money moving them on check Half Price Books or Amazon to help you decide if what you have is worth selling or better to be donated. 
  4. Craft supplies - This is probably a touchy subject for lots of folks, but think about your supplies and potential projects and figure out what makes sense. During our year of many moves, I donated all my art supplies and I know the clients there have gotten lots of enjoyment out of them. Now that we are in a small space and I've been given some commissions, I will do some more painting but it likely won't be at the level it was when I was voted one of the Top 2000 Artists of the Millennium. 
  5. Linens - still trying to decide how many sheets, towels, blankets are the right amount even though I've been working on moving them on since 2013 The article at Good Housekeeping says 2 sets per bed... I'm thinking 2 sets for each of our 2 seasons. 2 sets of flannel sheets and 2 sets of cotton sheets. Anyone need king sized sheets? 
  6. Tax documents - Okay, I'll admit tax documents are my dirty little secret. I've got boxes and boxes of taxes and the tax records are from two households, ours and my parents.I'll look through the information before destroying it -- that's how our friend found the oil land in Texas from her family. A rule of thumb now that it is 2016, most records from 2008 and earlier are probably fair game to shred and then recycle. Don't take my word for it though, check with a professional tax expert.

02 January 2016

5 New Year's resolution to make with your dogs


I've never been a big believer in setting January 1st as a resolution date, what if my big life changing moment strikes me at a different time? Let's call these "resolutions" goals for 2016 and then we have something to shoot for with our dogs. I want to thank the folks at JustRight by Purina for these tips to get 2016 started off right.

1.   Exercise more. Get moving together for at least 30 minutes a day, whether that's from the daily walk, extra playtime, or even a jog.
2.   Try a new activity. Create new ways to deepen your bond by mixing up the routine: Enroll in an agility or obedience class, teach her new tricks, or even try doga (yoga with your dog).  
3.   Visit the veterinarian. Schedule an annual veterinarian appointment. Even if she seems healthy, veterinarians know how to spot signs of illness that may be hiding. This could also help motivate you to stay on top of your own appointments so that you and your dogs are living healthy lives together.  
4.   Enjoy life to the fullest. Who could teach you better than your dog? This year, take a cue from them: Slow down. Cherish the little moments. Chase a squirrel when the mood strikes.  
5.   Eat healthy. Our dogs, The Beej And Minnow are already on the right track with their complete and balanced personalized blend. But if you need some encouragement for your own goals, both of you will benefit from drinking more water and snacking less.

What goals do you have for your dogs this year?

Links from this blog may provide commissions/compensation for me.

01 January 2016

The most important stuff is left

I'm still working on learning that things are not the people they remind us of. This was especially challenging after both my parents had died and we were selling the house. For whatever reason, it seemed that those things, the stuff, was the people. I know logically that wasn't what my brain was telling me, but it was hard to let things go when they are steeped in memories. Of course I learned those very items end up in boxes cluttering up rooms, and empty spaces until we are ready to transport them to a new location.

In my sorting, decluttering, simplifying pieces I am now down to the nitty gritty of the treasured items and it is hard. There are papers, collectibles, photos and cookbooks, lots and lots of cookbooks. The bolo ties, cowboy hats, boots, rings, watches... so much emotion packed into the remaining items. The trick now is to decide what to do with each thing and make it easier on me while I do it.

Honoring those that are gone. Some of the things I plan on keeping are reminders of my parents and other people that have died. I'm not planning on keeping every little thing, but the pieces that are significant will have a place in my new office / bedroom space. I'm going to shoot for three favorite items, although it may start as three favorites from each box. I want to showcase the important things, not keep them in boxes.

Use it or lose it. I've got china, crystal and sterling from my parents and guess where it is, yes, sitting in a box all wrapped up to protect for some future use that will never happen. Time to start using the good stuff! I'm going to wear the jewelry, eat off the china using the silver while drinking out of beautiful glassware. What am I waiting for? That's right, nothing!

Cloud storage. I'm getting the hang of using the Cloud thanks to my photography business. I use Dropbox a fair amount and am even well-versed in Google Docs too. I'm currently learning how to organize scads and scads of photos from Stuck in Customs so I can get my photos working better for me. Speaking of images, take pictures of your "stuff" and then move it along and keep the digital images. If you feel like printing them in a book, on a canvas or on a calendar it will be simple.

What's your story? I like to share the tales and tales about the tails and I'm finding telling the stories about what I find and the memories is helping me with the sentimental journey. My hope is to include some of them here and on the photo site too. I want to tell the stories I know about the ancestors too and share their images so other people get to know them too. I'm not aiming for the most popular blog on the Internet, the stories are for me and anyone that might want to see them.

I'm guessing this exercise will help me identify what is really important to me and not just how much stuff I have. I'm moving away from stuffed boxes that define my life and moving toward creating a life I want which includes giving to others and sharing my stories.

Image: Kathleen Riley Photography

31 December 2015

Less is more soul searching the clutter

Well here we are again diving into the boxes and clutter. I can tell you the initial sorts were really quite simple in a comparative study. Now I am down to the goodies that require soul searching and really letting go of the clutter. (PS - there is clutter within you too, you may not know it yet.)

I'm shooting for a simple system, and think the Sell, Keep, Throw method may be a good one. I'm planning on the first group being Sell (or donate) and hope there is plenty in there that wants a new home. Really, why do I need these things? Keep should be things that really are being kept for the right reasons, and that may take some additional soul searching. Lastly the throw (or recycle) group.

I have plenty of stuff. This year I am really working on not letting my stuff define me. I have moved unopened boxes for the last time!

Hidden meanings. Ouch! Look at the Save group and see what you are holding tightly. I was confronted with things that are related to parts of my life I have not taken time for. Those will be part of 2016 or they will be gone for 2017.

Don't dump your stuff on someone else. I know this sound like a no brainer, but having cleaned out many houses I can tell you that it is not. Saving it for later, saving it for your children, those are both ways to punish someone else by making them go through all your stuff. Don't do it!

Start to declutter and you'll want to declutter even more. Such a simple concept, but I see it more every year that I am lightening my load. At first it will feel weird and then it will be something you want to do. It's like some weird decluttering magic.

Get started now, yes, now. It is a lot simpler to get rid of the things that are cluttering up your life if you aren't moving. I know moving seems like a good time, but really if you start now the next time you move it will be so much simpler. I am still surprised by the amount of crap I took along in the year of many moves, but I learned a lot from that experience and won't do it that way again.

Where is your clutter hiding? Mine has been hiding in the 2nd bedroom and it is time for that to go. Yours may be in the garage (can a car park in there?) in the basement, outdoor shed, attic, your vehicle, closets, friend's house or the really secretive rental storage unit? It's time to lighten your load and feel better with some less is more.

Image: Source

30 December 2015

Do these boxes hold my memories?

Looking into the room of boxes today I wondered if the boxes actually held my memories or if they were just containers masquerading as memories?

I'm not 100% certain they don't contain my memories, but I am 100% certain they contained dust in addition to all the things I have been storing up. The dust made me wonder if I was actually keeping things for the right reasons for my lifestyle or not, I'm thinking I'm not. I'm a little afraid of what the genealogy boxes will do when I get to them...

Out of sight, out of mind? Yes! I freely admit that I only look at those boxes when I think I want a better office or guestroom or when I am grabbing the vacuum and think about why I keep these boxes. Otherwise I rarely open them and only really interact with them when we had the year of many moves and then when we moved to the current place. Hardly the best relationship!

One of the box items today was a 1962 baseball card for Billy Gardner. I am not a baseball card expert, but this one certainly looks like it was from 1962 and is unlikely to be worth much. Then a stroke of genius! I searched the Inter Webs for a little bit and found his current mailing address, popped the card in a Christmas card with a Hopkins Minnesota scene and mailed it off with a nice note. I'm sure he has plenty of the cards, but probably not a card with a Hopkins Minnesota theme!

As part of the ongoing Less is More 2016 plan, I think I will turn much of what I find into digitized images and documents. Will I do this with everything? Not likely. I think I will do that with things that tug at the heartstrings or have some importance and are not easily replicated. If I find something that can be reproduced easily then there is no sense in keeping it.

What I've found so far is the things that seemed valuable when they were encased in storage boxes weren't that important once they had their photo taken. I'm able to look at them anytime and they aren't taking up space. I get the same feeling from the photo as I did from seeing the item so that seems like a good solution.

Do you have a good solution to boxes of memories?

Image: Source

29 December 2015

What should I do with all the wedding stuff?

Well today's box (that's an understatement, it was BOXES and BOXES) that transported me back in time was the wedding photos, guest book and other sundry items. Looking at the groomsmen, only one is still living. The bridesmaids have fared much better as all are still living. 

I'm going to share my dirty little secret about how many wedding photos we have... A LOT! No, even more than what you might be picturing. I'm a photographer and many of my friends are also photographers, do you see that terrifying pattern that is developing? Thankfully, we were married in the non-digital age or the vast quantities of images would need an external hard drive to hold all of them.

So many stories from that day and the days that led up to it -- some funny, some not, but all part of the experience and that's what counts. I love looking through and seeing the people that attended, (okay maybe not all the people, but most of them) and remembering the fun we had. We were married in 1994 and many of the people are no longer with us so the images remind me to connect with people here and now and to keep taking photos!

I'll go through the guest book and the cards and then send them on their way, I no longer need them and they don't hold a candle to the photographs. I gave my wedding dress away years ago and hope some little girl is playing princess with it and loving that! My sister and I played dress up with our mothers dress, mostly because she was much smaller than either of us and we only fit in that dress as children. If you want a little memory of the dress as you send it on it's way, cut some material off it and keep that for some future project or wedding. I have no children so no need to think anyone would have wanted to wear that dress down the road.

Shameless self promotion moment! If you have a wedding dress and want to do some photos with it, trash the dress or just the last memories of the dress, I am here to help you and you can see some of my photography on my web site  

What did you do with your wedding memorabilia?

28 December 2015

How is this helping?

There are so many sentimental things in the boxes in my hopeful second bedroom / office. We moved in and I haven't really needed most of the things in the room, but it is time to go through them, and it is overwhelming. 

I think I was stuck in the "it can't hurt" to hang on to a few more things and I can always go through them later... Who knew it would be such a challenge to go through all this stuff! Is some of it valuable? Yes. Is some of it stuff that could go away and I wouldn't mind? Yes. Am I afraid I will send something down the road that I will regret? Yes. 

It was really easy to move on the front end items, clothes, furniture, dishes, everything before the "better" items and the heartstrings things. I came across the little booklet that holds a photo and report card from each year of grade school. Do I need that? Not likely, but for whatever reason it seems important to my brain. I even found the bracelet the nuns placed on me right after I was born, my mother saved that and I'm not sure why she thought it was important enough to keep. Of course they lived in a house that was WAY bigger than mine. 

As I'm sifting through all these historical things, I keep wondering if I should keep them or let them go. I am trying to live a life of being in the moment, and I'm not certain that all these things are helping me be present in my current life. 

After sorting through stuff at multiple homes, I am really convinced that the "stuff" isn't the important part, but the memories, experiences and stories are. I don't want anyone to have to go through boxes and rooms of stuff. I'm pretty sure no one will care what I left behind. It's the 100 year rule -- will this matter in 100 years? 

I'm going to share some of my stories and see how that does with helping get through all the sentimental papers and "stuff" and see what happens. My goal for 2016 is "Less is More" and I think I may toss in a little Papal wisdom with the "Year of Mercy" too. If you are going through this process -- or if you are living with someone that is going through the process -- remember be loving and as my mother reminded us, patience is a virtue.


27 December 2015

Sentimental stuff and clutter

I've been sorting through things almost continually since 2006 when my father died and then another huge wave when my mother died in 2009 the 2011 arrived with the year of many moves. We are currently in a small house and for whatever reason it has taken this long to start going through the boxes of papers from all those events. (Yes there are other hard goods too, but the papers have been a real brick wall -- or would that be a paper wall?) I hope to formulate some helpful hints and tips on how to do this, but we shall see how that comes together.

So the first box I grabbed had the notebook that held all the details needing to be addressed after each parent died. one part of that book even had my father's handwriting about how he was having a difficult time sleeping and the last two entries were made on the two nights following his chemo treatment. He had chemo on Friday and died Sunday morning. Interestingly both my father and mother received their cancer diagnoses (2006 and 2009) after a crisis trip to the hospital and both were dead within 6-months.

Also in the notebook was costs to bury both of them, the timeline rules of embalming versus cremation within 24-hours, invoices from Got Junk, roll off dumpster, medical supply rentals, where the DD214 was for veteran burial benefits, the various church and cemetery contacts for funeral plans, care plans for my mother and the helpers that were coming to the house to help us. Who knew how much looking at papers brings that death of parents right to the forefront.

Looking at the notes, my mother determined that the invasive procedures and tests were not for her within after 9 days of the doctors trying, but not determining, what was going on with her. They did eventually determine that she had a rare blood cancer and in her last days our mother became a vampire. If your parent becomes a vampire in later life, it is far simpler if they are not a vampire for O-Negative blood. Universal donor but can only receive the same blood type.

One thing that still sticks in my craw was how horrible USBank and Wells Fargo were to work with. Actually three major banks and some corporate entities too -- ugh. Here's a little from a post where we still were fighting in 2013 (4 YEARS after my mother died and 7 YEARS after my father died.)

We also got to fight with three major banks that felt our parent's money and safety deposit box contents belonged to them -- still trying to complete some of that since USBank (as in Us against them) decided to punish us with a ChexSystem hold on our accounts even though we had no accounts with them. Guess you should just bow down and let them screw you over... Still fighting to have the falsely attached ChexSystem attachment removed, and yes, I anticipate that I'll get some form of threatening crap from USBank because I dared to mention this in public again. (I would suggest that you read some of my earlier posts about dealing with them, but they forced those to be removed from the blogs.)

In case you want to do some reading up on big banks and their awful practices you can see some information here about USBank and some more with US Bank and more. Want a little more on Wells Fargo

16 December 2015

Dog food ingredients infographic from Just Right by Purina


I was really excited to try JustRight by Purina customized dog food when it was introduced in 2014, and now at the end of 2015 I am really pleased we tried it. Our dogs look great and they love the food and I can adjust it as needed with each order.

Today I got this Infographic about dog food ingredients and it is easy to understand and really helpful. As you can see, it shows every ingredient and nutrient included in Just Right by Purina and how they each have a purpose. One thing I like about this is how it tells the story of ingredients as "team players" rather than an individual list.

Many manufacturers would like you to think “If I can’t pronounce it, it’s bad for my dog.” This information should help you to see that even if you can't pronounce something doesn't necessarily mean it's bad.

Take a look and let me know if you have any questions you would like answered.


15 December 2015

How much does health insurance really cost?

I've been trying to figure out what to do for health insurance for 2016, and the only thing I am certain about is that there is no such thing as affordable healthcare.

The cost of the care is astronomical and from 2015 to 2016 my current plan more than doubled. Add to that my apparent lack of ability to get a job with benefits and viola the working poor appear where once there was a solid middle class family.

Some things you'll need to factor in for costs.
  1. Premium - the monthly amount you'll pay to your health plan to have coverage. If you're anything like me, this is the first number you look at, and you are likely having some significant sticker shock. The premium amount will vary based on your age, where you live, and any premium tax credits you can get. (Don't count on getting any of those!) 
  2. Deductible - this is the money you will pay out of your own pocket before that health plan starts paying anything. Isn't that great? You'll get to pay every month for the plan and pay the deductible too. (Yes, add those two together to start seeing how much this is really going to costs.) Think about the dollar amount and then remember that a quick trip to the hospital and you'll need to pay it all at once. You could look at plans with lower deductibles, but then you'll be paying higher premiums. 
  3. Co-Insurance and Co-pays - be very careful here. Both of these are what you will  pay every time you visit a doctor or get your medications. If you see "co-insurance" on your potential policy, please pay very close attention to co-insurance amounts. You'll see a percentage listed and be aware that your costs are going to add up really fast if you have a costly visit or medication. 
  4. Out of pocket - yay, now you get to pay some more of your own money! Look at the out-of-pocket maximum and be sure to double check the fine print to make sure that amount listed isn't going to double or triple depending on your coverage -- wouldn't that be an awful surprise! Out-of-pocket is a cap (or limit) on what you’ll have to pay during a year.  Once you spend the maximum, your insurance will pay the rest and you won’t have to pay co-payments or co-insurance any more. Add this into your potential costs too so you have the real picture of what things will be costing you. 
  5. Income - How much income you have makes a difference too. Depending on your family income, you may be eligible for premium tax credits, which should lower how much your premium will cost you. Now the magic the messes it up in our household. If your spouse has a plan that is deemed "affordable" then you aren't eligible for subsidies. Yay! More money out the window. 
 Good luck and let me know if you have any tips on saving money!


14 December 2015

It's dark in the morning...

This is a hard time of year in Minnesota. We have limited hours of daylight and the weather is often gray and slippery. The image above was taken inside the house at 8:45 AM -- yes, AM. Ugh. Outside it is sleeting, ugh.

So what do I decide to do after realizing that it is too slippery to walk the dogs with the thin coat of ice on the roads and trails? I go to the back of the yard and pull out more of the trash left by the  fence when the property was under the guise of the rental management company -- yes, that company is worthless.

After dragging trash up to the front of the property to dispose of, I decided to clean the Dyson vacuum filters and sort some boxes too. I came across a box with a Rolodex and a Day-Timer from 2012. Do I really need those anymore?

For those of you younger than I am, this is a description of a Rolodex
North Americantrademark
noun: Rolodex; plural noun: Rolodexes
  1. a desktop card index used to record names, addresses, and telephone numbers, in the form of a rotating spindle or a small tray to which removable cards are attached.
    • informal
      a person's list of business contacts and friends.

At some point in my working life, some of my worth as a sales manager came with the worth of my contacts. Network = net worth. That seems like ages ago now. These tools were once critical to my success, and now they are awkward relics that aren't updated and are eagerly grabbing space that could be better suited for other things.

Now I have contacts in my iPhone and am an avid "Googler" to find people. I am working hard to lighten my load and these two memories will have a photo snapped and shared and then they will head off into the sunset.

28 November 2015

Book Review: The Lost Panoramas: When Chicago Changed its River and the Land Beyond

The Lost Panoramas: When Chicago Changed its River and the Land BeyondThe Lost Panoramas: When Chicago Changed its River and the Land Beyond by Michael F. Williams
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Wonderful historical images of the reversal of the Chicago River in 1894. At the time this was known as The Eighth Wonder of The World for the engineering feats it took to accomplish the project. Seeing it in modern terms, we are now able to recognize the environmental impact.

Here's a link to a video interview of the authors: https://youtu.be/Y2DLLaVg9eQ

View all my reviews

19 November 2015

Rental property management companies may not be worth the money

I'm not certain how many ways a property management company could not manage a property correctly, but I suspect the folks managing the house we live in now were striving to be the best in that skill. What do I base that on? The house we are living in that they "managed" as a rental property (This is based on my personal experience with the company and the opinions are my own.) and how we continue to repair, replace and live with the "management" that wasn't actually occurring.

Some examples (but not even close to all things) include: 
  • It may just be me, but I really believe that the stairs that go outside should actually be there when you open the back door. Apparently that wasn't a concern for the previous renter or the "management" company. What's the harm of falling out of a building onto the ground...
  • Now I am no HVAC expert, but it seems to me that a "management" company should have their representatives actually check things when a tenant moves out, and that one thing you might want to check is the furnace filter. Imagine our surprise when when looked at the "filter" and it was only the paper piece with no filter -- yes, that cost us a lot of money to clean and tune up. 
  • How about the hot and cold water controls -- or lack thereof -- on the lower level sink. I guess actually turning water on or off isn't a big deal. 
  • All the smoke detectors were removed from the house, really? They were here when you moved in and yet you thought it was important to take them along. 
  • Then there was the caved in window well that had been infested with deadly yellow jackets. Of course no worries there, it was only right next to the door to go outside. Wait! That might explain why the stairs were not repaired! Perhaps the company may have thought that lack of steps would prevent the yellow jacket wasps from coming into the house...

When the rental company was asked about repairing the items there was lots of tap dancing around it and ultimately we fixed and continue to fix, and are still fixing all the things that should have been covered in their "management" services. Naturally no money refunded or repairs taken care of. When I wrote a review I did get a sabre rattling response from the company telling me to take the review down. I did not do that.

Mostly this experience showed me that fancy websites and ads coupled with slick team members doesn't make a good business model for the homeowners or renters. Of course if I owned the management company I would probably be pretty happy with the financial gains I was receiving.


Organizing your life with a closet shopping spree

Closet Shopping Spree
Are you a budding clothes horse? Do you have plenty of clothes in your closet, but still find yourself in dressing rooms? Try "shopping" in your own closet. Grab an arm load of clothes (this way you only have to deal with a limited number of items at a time)  that you haven't worn in ages and try them on in front of a full length mirror. If there are some you would buy again, put them back into your closet as long as they fit, are still in style and don't need any major alterations or repairs. Any that don't fit the criteria to go back into the closet should go directly into the donation bin. Don't let the price you paid for something guilt you into keeping it. Your closet is prime space and realistically you probably only wear 20% of what is in there anyway. If your weight has fluctuated (and who's hasn't) this method will let you determine what fits now and get rid of the memories of your body size history. This approach may also help you to unearth a buried treasure, or at the very least a Halloween costume.

Can't bear to weed through the clothes even a little at a time? Try one of these methods to truly know what you will and will not wear:

  • Take all your hanging clothes and hang them the opposite way on the rack. When you wear an item, it can be rehung with the hanger facing the "correct" direction. If they haven't been worn in six months, donate them. (This method is adaptable for winter and summer clothes too. Just hang the clothes that match the season and give them a six month window.)
  • Hang all your clothes inside out on the hanger. When you wear the item, hang it right side out. Anything that is still inside out after six months goes into the donation box.
  • If you still can't bear to part with the some of the items that are still the "wrong" way in your closet, pack them into a box and postdate them for 6-months from now. If you haven't opened the box to retrieve them before that date, you know you don't need them. The big bonus is they are all ready packed and ready to leave your home.
Hope some of this is helpful to you.

14 October 2015

First-Ever Dog Park in a Domestic Violence Shelter

What a great program! We all know the value of pets in our lives and now Purina and Urban Resource Institute has put together a way to keep all family members together. 

Press Release from: 
Urban Resource Institute and Nestlé Purina Unveil the Purina Pet Haven, Manhattan’s First-Ever Dog Park in a Domestic Violence Shelter

Dog park ribbon-cutting celebrates the growth of URIPALS—URI’s initiative to shelter people and pets together—and URI’s partnership with Purina
New York, NY – October 13, 2015 – Urban Resource Institute (URI) and Nestlé Purina PetCare (Purina) today hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate Manhattan’s first-ever dog park in a domestic violence shelter. The new dog park is located at Urban Women’s Retreat (UWR), a emergency shelter that is part of the URIPALS (People and Animals Living Safely) program. URIPALS is the only program in New York City and one of the few nationally that allows survivors of domestic violence to live in shelter with their pets. To date, URIPALS has helped 43 families with 63 pets, including 38 cats, 18 dogs, and a range of smaller animals, such as reptiles and fish, escape domestic violence.

Sponsored by Purina, which funded the design and construction of the dog park, the Purina Pet Haven will provide survivors of domestic violence and their families (including pets) with a safe and calming retreat in which to heal together while in shelter. The opening of the new dog park builds upon Purina’s previous support of the URIPALS program. In the spring of 2014, Purina also sponsored the creation of the Purina Play Haven at URI’s Safe Haven shelter in Brooklyn, the first-ever dog park at a domestic violence shelter in New York City. Since its opening, the park at Safe Haven has served as a vital component in the healing process for a number of families and their pets.

“Through the URIPALS program we have witnessed first-hand how important it is for survivors to have their beloved pets by their side while they heal,” said Nathaniel Fields, President and CEO of URI. “From early on in the URIPALS program, Purina has been committed to supporting survivors of domestic violence and their pets. We know that the new dog park will play an integral part in helping our clients heal, and for that we are extremely grateful to Purina.”

URI and Purina’s collaboration in support of URIPALS brings together one of New York City’s largest domestic violence service providers and a leader in the pet care industry around the closely linked issues of animal abuse and domestic violence. United by the belief that people and pets are better together, URI and Purina are helping reduce barriers to safety for families with pets in domestic violence situations and hope to continue raising awareness about the impact of abuse on the whole family—including pets.

“For most pet owners, the bond with their pet is incredibly strong, and for people in abusive relationships their pet can be an important source of comfort,” said Dr. Kurt Venator, Purina veterinarian.  “Purina is very proud to support the Urban Resource Institute in its efforts to keep families and their pets together during this time of healing.”

As part of its support for the URIPALS program, Purina is also donating Purina ONE brand dog food, Purina Cat Chow brand cat food, along with other dog treats and cat litter. In addition, Purina is working with URI to provide supplies for welcome kits for families bringing pets to Urban Women’s Retreat, including pet travel carriers, safety gates, pet beds, pet feeding and watering bowls, cat scratching posts, leashes and pet toys.
At the ribbon-cutting, Manhattan Deputy Borough President Aldrin Bonilla and New York State Assemblymember Linda Rosenthal will both issue proclamations celebrating the URIPALS program and its impact on survivors of domestic violence and their pets in New York City.

To learn more about URIPALS and for tips on keeping the entire family safe in domestic violence situations, please visit www.urinyc.org.

About Urban Resource Institute
Urban Resource Institute (URI) is a leading non-profit organization that provides comprehensive, holistic, and supportive human services programs that help individuals and families in the New York metropolitan area overcome obstacles and better their lives. With a rich 35-year legacy of social service research and expertise, deep community relationships, and a flexible, innovative approach to program development and service delivery, URI is uniquely equipped to provide solutions to the challenges affecting New York’s most vulnerable populations. URI’s hands-on programs for victims of domestic violence, the developmentally disabled, and people struggling with addiction and substance abuse are specifically tailored to meet the needs of the individual, while community outreach initiatives build wider visibility and support for the issues that have an impact on our clients’ quality of life and New York’s urban communities. For more information, please visit www.urinyc.org.
About Nestlé Purina
Nestlé Purina PetCare Company is a global leader in the pet care industry. Nestlé Purina PetCare promotes responsible pet care, community involvement and the positive bond between people and their pets. A premiere global manufacturer of pet products, Nestlé Purina PetCare is part of Swiss-based Nestlé S.A., a global leader in nutrition, health and wellness.

12 October 2015

7 ways Improve your relationship with your dog

It's The Beej's birthday and she's got a gift for your dogs! A FREE order of Just Right by Purina and a $50 gift card to PrideBites! Enter now!

How much do we LOVE our dogs? I'm not sure there are words that are BIG enough! Every day we try and do something special with them and to make their lives better.

One of the days we do something a little extra is National Dog Day which was August 26th this year. After taking a BIG walk at Elm Creek Park we got back to the house and the dogs played in the yard with #FluffyTheVampire Labrador. She is hilarious and loves tearing around with the garden hose - the Chinooks are less enthusiastic about getting wet.

After a great playtime, UPS arrived with a custom painting from Just Right by Purina of #MinnowAndTheBeej. You can compare the photo above and the painting -- it looks just like them! Also in the box was a gift card for PrideBites -- if you hven't been to their site yet, there is lots of cool, personalized dog stuff there. I think I need help picking out what to get! Let me know your favorite item!

This is one of my favorite videos with our Chinooks checking out the first snow -- it's hard to imagine how much fun they have playing and running in it! Hope you enjoy seeing their antics.

Build those relationships, your dogs will love you for it!

1. Spend time walking together. Take walks with your dog, they love seeing new places and smelling new things and when you help them achieve that your bond enhances. 
2. Communicate clearly. Dogs are really smart and benefit from consistent training and communication. My dogs have always been really quick to pick up visual signals and I like to use them as much as I can. Dogs are constantly reading our body language so why not play to their strengths? 
3. Train, don't complain. Take the time to train your dog and keep them tuned up with new skills all through their lives. The better trained your dog is the more freedom they will have. Well-trained dogs are allowed greater freedom. Training should be fun and always end on a positive note with something your dog is good at.
4. Play! Want to have a great relationship? Play! This is important in the human-animal bond as well as with other people. Playtime = bonding time. What's your favorite playtime activity? 
5. Relax. Dogs are like people and prefer an atmosphere that is relaxed, calm, cool, collected. Do your best to keep your wits about you no matter what is happening, your dog will love you for it.
6. Feed a healthy diet like Just Right by Purina. The Chinooks love their personalized blend of dog food and I love how well it works to keep them looking and feeling their best. We also make some healthy treats and meals for them to enjoy too and everything is always made with love.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Terms and Conditions
Want to spoil your pup with their own custom gifts too? Just Right by Purina and Pridebites are giving away a personalized prize pack. One lucky winner will receive a free order of Just Right by Purina – a personalized dog food (up to $68.95 value) – and a $50 Pridebites gift card. 

This giveaway is open from October 12th, 2015 - October 26th, 2015 and is open to US residents (void where prohibited by law), ages 18+. To enter, fill out the Rafflecopter form below with as many entry options as you want. By entering this giveaway, you consent to subscribing to Just Right by Purina and PrideBites email lists which you can unsubscribe from later on if you wish. Full terms & conditions can be found on the Rafflecopter widget. Good luck!

The Fine Print 
We receive free products from Just Right by Purina in exchange for occasional blog posts. All opinions expressed here are our own. 


07 August 2015

Where to live?

We've been downsizing / right sizing since 2009 starting at my parent's house and moving on to our own after that and now we are wondering where we should go for the next step -- the AARP move. I think we are on a good path to perpetual downsizing and learning how to re-purpose what we do have to get the most out of what takes up space in our lives.

The first part of the AARP plan may be deciding whether or not to move. Sometimes moving make sense and sometimes it doesn't, let's figure out some things to think about.
  • Family and friends - how close do you want to be to those people? You may want to think about what those folks will be doing too, will they always want to be where they are now? For me it's fairly easy on the family front, most of mine no longer live on the frozen tundra.I would like to be near a vibrant community and perhaps a University, but it's not a deal breaker.
  •  Weather - I'll share with you that Minnesota's climate is unfriendly, we have the Amazon in the summer and Siberia in the winter -- who wouldn't want to live here! As we consider locations I keep thinking that a place with less extremes would be a nice start. San Diego and Santa Barbara are both places with lovely weather, Minnesota not so much. I just want to be able to walk every day without worrying about falling on the ice or collapsing because of the heat.
  • It costs how much! There are definitely places that have a lower cost of living than Minnesota, but there are trade offs and it's important to figure out if those places really are cheaper. We have lots of practice living on the low end and that should still be doable as we age out of the workplace.
  • Housing for old farts - okay I still am not sure I'm an old fart, but if I were I would want my house to be easy to live in. As a Minnesota resident, I do not want a house with a steep driveway and that has no age barrier, it's just common sense! In the household pieces that are nice to have I would include being able to live on one level, no thresholds, not too many stairs into the house.  
  • What about being an RVer? Yes the open road is appealing, but there are a lot of expenses that go with that lifestyle. I would love to hear from anyone doing it full time or those that have stopped to learn what to pay attention to. 
  • What about being transient? This is easier for the non-doggie crowd, but it would be tempting to go from place to place renting houses and experiencing all the USA has to offer -- or why stop there, how about the world?   
 What would you do?

05 August 2015

Doga - Yoga for you and your dog

I like Yoga, even if I'm not that great at it. I like to be able to stretch and have some calm time to work at being more physically flexible and strong. The dogs always enjoy being near me when I am at home doing my Yoga so this could be a way to incorporate a little more for them into the routine.

What are you doing to exercise with or without your dogs?

Source: Fix.com

30 July 2015

Do you really need all those clothes?

I'm always trying to figure out ways to reduce the "stuff" that I need to look after, and by "stuff" I mean the inanimate items that require care and may not offer as much payback in rewards. After talking with some friends, I realized that clothes are a real sticking point and for a number of reasons. I did some searching on the Inter Webs and found some good tips to help you go through your clothes and decide what you want/need and what can go make other people happy.

  1. Does it fit? If not, purge it out of your collection. Donate to a worthy cause, give away to someone that it would fit (only if they want it), or it may mean tossing it out. If these words are in your vocab list you may want to move the items on to new homes - Clothes with modifiers like fat, skinny, mending, and any others that fall into those excuses category. 
  2. Does it flatter? Make no mistake, all of us likely have things that don't flatter us -- the trick is in really seeing how the clothes look on you. It helped me to take cell phone pics of my in different outfits to quickly move some things on to new places. Are you looking frumpy? Did you know you could look frumpy wearing really high-end clothing? Mom jeans, yes, those should go. Too baggy, too saggy, constantly needing adjustment to make them functional? Out they go! 
  3. Do you wear the clothes? Now I will cut you some slack if you live in a climate that requires clothing from the tropics to Siberia, but even with that latitude be sure you are actually wearing the clothes. If your attire hasn't been on your body for an entire year, it should move on to make someone else happy. You can always do the backward hanger trick, hang everything with the hanger pointing the wrong direction and then after the season is complete if the clothing hasn't graced your body, out it goes. No cheating! 
  4. What is your color? No, not in the seasonal or aura way, but what is the base for your wardrobe? Mine is black, and it works for most of what I am doing. The biggest trick here is to select a neutral foundation color like black, brown, khaki, gray, and then move everything else to a new home. 
  5. What will you use to accent and accessorize? Pick things that work with your base color -- again, mine is black and that seems to work with everything. I would limit the color selection some so your closet isn't full of accent pieces, but get some classic pieces that are good quality. I like silver with turquoise and I like emeralds too so I ave those as accessories. What about purses? I've got two that I rotate through and at an event I'm really more likely to be carrying a camera bag than a handbag. Stick with your base color or accent color and get something that is both practical and attractive.
  6. What's on your feet? In my past I had so much footwear that I may have been rivaling Imelda Marcos, and I wish I would have listened to the nuns about not wearing high stiletto heels -- who knew my feet would be destroyed . . . oh yes, the nuns knew. Anywho, now I have more practical footwear, one pair of dress shoes (in patent leather, thanks Catholic school!), a casual shoe (loafer), a slip on after tennis shoe to wear in the house and a walking shoe /tennis shoe/sneaker so I can get out and walk the dogs every day with good support and less pain and one pair of dress boots that I can wear in public or to the horse barn.
What's in the closet? (Besides skeletons...)
  • Underwear - I've got a lot of these, about enough for 3-weeks. All are black because all my slacks and pants are dark. Brands to consider: Jockey, Exofficio, Vanity Fair. 
  • Bras - find a fitter and get some help selecting a bra, of course even then you may or may not have great success. The fitters at Nordstrom's at the Mall of America have been good in the past and are worth a shot. There are people that make custom bras and that is always a good option. I've also got one camisole style top that is black and I bought at a horse expo, offers good coverage and is slinky enough to pack easily.
  • Socks - socks with arch support and good toe room for walking and daily wear, a few pairs of trouser socks for dressing up. 
  • Jeans - 2 pairs that look nice, holes and other adornments are more for the youngsters than for me. I wear my clothes for a long time and I don't need to go out of fashion in the next season. 
  • Slacks - 4 pairs all but one with pockets which comes in handy for both dogs and photography. (Yes I usually pass on attire that doesn't have pockets and when I wear an outfit without them it annoys me.)
  • Tee Shirts - I have too many... In a perfect world there would be 3 long sleeved tees and 10-15 short sleeved tees. I don't wear tank tops because the sun is hard on a delicate flower like myself but you could include a few if you wanted to. 
  • Sweatshirts - I have too many of these too, but my excuse is living in Minnesota. I have a zip up hoodie one that says "Purdue" and has pockets (yes, dogs and photogs) and then some that need to be weeded through so my goal is 4 pull over style and 1 zip up. Then maybe pare down to two zippered hoodies... A girl can dream! 
  • Button front (or pearly snaps) oxford style shirts - I've got a few of these and use them as sun protection and for business casual. I love the western shirt with the pearl snaps, but note to self it is white and your bras are black... Maybe one more bra should be added to the mix?
  • Turtle / mock turtle necks - Again, we live in Minnesota and these are a great part of layering. You may or may not need anything like these. I've got three black and one burgundy.  
  • Short sleeved shirts / tunics - for the tropical summers in Minnesota I've got 3 that are currently in rotation. 
  • Blazers - I need these for business meetings and have 7 in colors that go well with my black slacks. It is a timeless look that can be dressed up or down. 
  • Coats - okay, again it is Minnesota so there are more than most people might need, we have all kinds of weather here and a lot of it is on the same day. Windbreaker, Polartec zip up, zip up vest (with my Riley Photo logo), long lined duster coat for those horribly cold winter days. 
  • Swimsuit - I've got two, one solid black and one with white polka dots. Now that I'm not a Road Warrior I could likely have one swimsuit and be just fine. 
  • Exercise attire - that made it sounds fancier! The tee shirts come in handy here and then 4 pairs of sweats with pockets for dog treats and poop bags.
Your list will be different than mine, but the basics apply for all of us, good quality, comfort and fit and clothes that hold up to use.

04 June 2015

What You Don't Know Can Make Your Dog Fat

Did you know 95 percent of pet owners thought their overweight or obese dog was a normal body condition? With summer barbecues on the horizon “people food” may tempt your dog and he could eat more than just his daily kibble. Here are some stats that may surprise you about pet obesity:
·         In 2014, 43.8 million dogs were overweight
·         42 percent of owners said they didn’t know what a “healthy weight” was for their pet
·         Dog owners can end up feeding about 37-80% more food than their dog needs
The folks at Just Right by Purina have created this wonderful infographic with some fun ideas for how pet owners can prevent pet obesity and keep their pets healthy and happy this summer. 

I've been feeding our dogs Just Right by Purina and they LOVE it! The food is a personalized option that keeps your pets nutritional needs in mind and is a great way to keep your pet healthy in addition to these tips. 

Thanks for stopping past and be sure to share this information with you "dog people." 

03 May 2015

Just Right by Purina Discount Code


I'm really excited about Just Right® by Purina®, a personalized feeding experience that is geared toward your dog's unique needs. I've been feeding my Chinooks, Minnow and The Beej, their specialized blend since 2014 and I LOVE how well the food performs and how great they look. 
This food is available only online, and when you order, you'll provide your firsthand knowledge about your dog's physical and behavioral characteristics, and the folks at Just Right® by Purina® apply their nutritional expertise to suggest a personalized blend that your dog can truly call his or her own. In addition to great nutrition, you can even put your favorite photo of your dog right on the label - I like seeing my dogs on the front of the bag. Once you've selected your food, it will ship directly to your door for free and my UPS driver even commented about how regularly the boxes arrive from Purina®
And now, to celebrate National Pet Month, JustRight has offered us a special code for readers of 20% off one order!* That's right - now is your chance to try JustRight! Simply use BEEJMINNOW20 when checking out.

To get started and learn more about JustRight, visit their website. Don't forget, this code - BEEJMINNOW20 - is only good through May 24th, 2015!

*Official Terms and Conditions
Offer valid for 20% off one (1) order (up to $68.95) of Just Right® by Purina® through May 24, 2015. Valid on JustRightPetFood.com only. For full terms, visit www.purina.com/terms-and-conditions. If you have questions about the product, technology, et cetera, get in touch with the Just Right by Purina team. http://justrightpetfood.com/contact-us

Disclaimer: We are part of the JustRight pet blogger network but were not compensated directly for this post.

01 May 2015

National Purebred Dog Day May 1st

Minnow the Chinook mugs it up on the National Purebred Dog Day Facebook page

From Lassie and Rin Tin Tin, to Uggie and Air Bud, from Brian Griffin and Santa’s Little Helper, to Snoopy and Marmaduke, purebred dogs have had a place in American history and culture.
Did you know that about half of all dogs owned in the United States are purebred dogs? Purebred dogs were created to work alongside man as hunters and herders, vermin control and livestock guardians. They are service, military, and Search and Rescue dogs, and have provided companionship while protecting family and home.

On March 10, 2015, Colorado became the first state in America to recognize May 1st as National Purebred Dog Day. State legislators voted on Joint Resolution 15-1015 introduced by Minority Whip, Rep. Polly Lawrence, to celebrate the diversity, heritage, predictability and contributions of the purebred dog. The American Kennel Club (AKC) supports National Purebred Dog Day too.

The path to National Purebred Dog Day begins Hungary in 1944. Founder, Susi Szeremy's mother had grown up with a Puli dog and in near the end of World War II, allied aircraft were bombing Budapest on an almost daily basis between 1944 and 1945. Unfortunately her mother's Puli did not survive and Szeremy shares "A broken chain and bits of bloody collar were all that remained of him. This dog became a casualty of a war that had nearly decimated all the Hungarian dog breeds either by bombing or starvation; many more shot or beaten to death by soldiers."

It was thirty years before Szeremy's mother could pet another Puli. It was a Puli puppy that Szeremy had searched for years to find. Seremy shares, "When I first introduced them to each other, my mother buried her face in the puppy's soft black curls and wept for a long time. In that moment, I understood the significance of the human-dog bond."

While every dog should be valued whatever its ancestry, National Purebred Dog Day specifically recognizes the 300+ distinct dog breeds and varieties recognized worldwide, each breed a "bit of history with a pulse," each the legacy of the culture that created it for a reason. Some purebred breeds are in danger of extinction, such as the Skye Terrier that is outnumbered globally by Panda Bears.

For more information about National Purebred Dog Day visit their Facebook and YouTube pages. To join in the fun use these hashtags: #purebreddogs and #NationalPurebredDogDay

25 February 2015

Family Photos - are these your family?

These photos came to me as part of my research I am sharing in hopes that they will find their families. If you can identify anyone please let me know.

Names that I have found:
  • Vickerman
  • Hoskins
  • Micken
  • Daniels
  • Quade
  • Batalden
  • Lake View Church in Hillman, Minnesota
  • South
  • Adel
  • Aret
  • Look
  • Niekem
  • Christensen, Jane 
  • Miller
  • Weiskopf, Richard Oswin 1926-1 Sep 1952