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Quick Mod Podge craft – inexpensive and lovely.

Mod Podge and Candles

dec 3 2013 028april 2 2013 060craft tutorials March 2013 010I found this tissue paper that looks like old newsprint ads on the clearance rack at The Container Store – I knew immediately that it was destined for date with a jar of Mod Podge.  I cut the ads out in separate pieces to do these projects.  First I used a vase I had around the house and layered it with Mod Podge (Matte) and the papers.  I did a second coat of Mod Podge.  I let each coat dry for a day – I find the longer you let each coat dry the less chance of tackiness on your finished project .  I always stick to less is more when I work with Mod Podge as well, it is easier to add more if needed than to try to work out bubbles.  After the second coat dried I went over the whole piece with Distressed Ink (frayed burlap), let dry over night and then did a final coat of Mod Podge.  I filled the vase with greens and twinkle lights.

I repeated this process for all the small candle holders.  The first picture is an upcycled chandelier that hangs in my kitchen.  I covered each candle holder in the same manner as the vase – I lit them up with tea candles – this is a fabulous mood setting in my kitchen. The vase and small candles are on our fireplace mantle.

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Quick and easy handmade gift for the pet lover…

MAson Jar Hostess gifts 015  I made these three treat jars (filled with dog cookies) last night.  The whole project cost me less than $10 (not including the treats I put in the jars) and took about 90 minutes.    I am planning to use them as hostess gifts for dog loving friends over the holiday season.

I have attached a quick tutorial to show the products I used to make them.Hostess Gift for Pet Lover. Enjoy!

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Blogletter – staying grounded in what matters…

Greetings fellow pet lovers!

There is no such thing as a boring day for me with so many critters running around the house.  Sometimes though, those crazy days can be a real challenge when one of my pets is not well.

Our chocolate lab, Sam. is what my vet calls just simply a “tragic case”.

I hate hats!
I hate hats!

Sam is about 8 years old (we aren’t sure, but roughly 8) but he has the joints of a dog much older than his years.  There is only one good joint in is whole body, his left knee.  Last week he injured what is already a severely distorted hip joint.  His whole leg swelled up like a balloon and he was unable to walk on that leg.  With some meds, hot and cold compresses and some restless but motionless days Sam’s leg is back to its normal size, but it will probably never be the same.  This isn’t the first time we have had a scare with Sam’s legs but his xrays this time clearly show us that his legs are just not going to hold out too much longer.  It breaks our hearts, he is so sweet and is a great companion.   We find ourselves grateful for whatever time we are going to have left with him and grateful that God cares for all of his creatures.

But it’s not over just yet and Sam reminds us daily that our time with our pets is always a measured amount of time – so we love now and love big!  There are so many things I love about having dogs in the house – but the thing I love most – their capacity to receive my love unceasingly.  Loving others is the “stuff of life” – it’s what God made us to do.  Sometimes, loving others (people), as we all know, can be complicated.  Loving our dogs – well they never tire of our love, question our motives or judge how we love them – they are such a special gift to us!

Being grateful and staying in the moment with them seems so important anytime one of them is sick but it also reminds me to make the best of everything no matter what the current circumstances are.  It never fails to amaze me how stoic dogs (especially labs) are.  When they are uncomfortable and circumstances are less than ideal they still find cause to wag a tail, show some affection and can find something to be excited about.  I love their attitude and I hope I can face life’s difficulties with a fraction of the fortitude my sweet Sam seems to have.

Earlier this week I came across the story of Champ.  Here is a link to his story:  This is a tough one to read but Champ is true inspiration of survival and so are all the people who rallied to save Champ and to prosecute the perps who hurt him!  I love rescue stories, don’t you?

There are many new things on my website this week, here is a peak at some of them:

A free craft tutorial

november 12 007  I made a chandelier for my studio from an old bed frame I found at a junk market.  I love how it turned out and this project cost me only $40.

Check out my Craft Tutorial page for a free download of this and other projects.

A new recipe:

november 15 006  I added a new recipe for carrot balls.  These are super easy treat for dogs; grass fed beef, carrots and potatoes – how could it get any better for a dog snack!

Check out my recipe page for this and other recipes.

Some new items in my ETSY store:

I added several new pet sympathy cards to my ETSY store (

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These cards are part of my “Anima” line.  Anima is the Latin word for soul.  Everything I make for this line is made by hand and with the heart of someone who knows how hard it is to lose a beloved pet.  I charge $9.99 for these cards (plus shipping) and can ship directly to your recipient if time is an issue.

Thanks for reading our blogletter and always remember that adopting a shelter pet is a chic and stylish thing to!

Kindest regards,

Nancy, The Rescue Mama

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Blogletter – warning from FDA on jerky treats for dogs

Just a quick update in regards to pet safety!

My husband forwarded me this article this morning with a warning from the FDA on jerky treats for dogs (treats originating from China).  Here is a link to the article on the FDA website

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Blogletter from The Rescue Mama

cropped-small-heart-cropped2.jpgOctober is National Adopt a Shelter Dog Month – that makes it my favorite month!!!!

Fall is my favorite time of year; the colors, the crisp Minnesota weather and the yummy fall produce – squash and apples and more!  It is also my favorite time to get to the trails with my dogs – cooler weather and fewer bugs!!!

There are a lot of new items on The Rescue Mama website to tell you about; a book review on Going Home, Finding Peace When Pets Die by John Katz; a featured item from my Rescue Chic line, the launch of  new line products and some tips on staying safe during Halloween.   Enjoy!



I recently added a book review of Going Home, Finding Peace When Pets Die by John Katz.  I read just about every book I can find on the topic of dealing with loss after the death of a pet and this one really stands out.    I read this book in two sittings (only because I was interrupted when I initially sat down with it).  John Katz offers wonderful perspective on our relationships with our pets and why our grief can be so intense when we lose them.  I found this to be one of the most supportive books I have read in terms of working through the guilt issues we often feel after we have had to euthanize a pet.   It does require a box of Kleenex beside you to read through this one but it is well worth the time, a real soul cleansing.

Click here for full review of Going Home


In honor of October being Adopt a Shelter Dog Month my feature item from The Rescue Mama store is my handmade Rescue Dog tags!

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This necklace is handmade from a 2 inch metal dog tag.  It is ornamented with the definition of “rescue”.  The definition of rescue on this tag is:  “when a human gives a home to an animal who has no home, human is rewarded with unconditional love forever” – it is formatted to look like a dictionary definition.  The background is stained tan and brown with portions of paw prints around the definition (the location of the paw print may vary slightly on each necklace).  Each necklace has a black paw print charm as well as a small heart charm.  These necklaces are sturdily made though I would highly recommend not wearing them in water.  The back of the dog tag is blank.  This necklace makes a great gift for the dog lover in your life.

The chain is 28″ long though these chains can be easily cut to any length you desire, even simply attached to a key chain or hand bag.

Each necklace comes in a white burlap bag with paw prints on it, tied with red ribbon and a tag that tells about the Rescue Chic line.

20% of the sale of these necklaces is donated to the ASPCA.  These necklaces are available for $29.99 and ship for free.   If you are interested in one of these necklaces click here.


road tripThis month I launched a new product line that I am really excited about!  Its called the PUPCase.  My husband and I had always considered ourselves big dog people.  That is until one day two small breed dogs ended up at our door needing a home – we fell in love with them and were surprised by just how much fun we have with these little guys!   The nicest surprise – small breeds travel so well – we take them everywhere – especially on vacation.  Thiis picture on the left is Kringles and Lacey packed in to their car seats heading off to Door County, WI for an art retreat with me – we had so much fun!

After a few trips and going through the process of packing all their things I decided that they needed their own travel gear – thus the PUPCase was born.  I am having a blast working on these PUPCases.  I am launching the line with these first four cases and hope to double my production to about 8 PUPCases per month by Christmas.  The cases pictured are available to be purchased at my ETSY store

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Believe me, horns fit.
Believe me, horns fit.

One of the best things about October is of course Halloween – I just love Halloween!  I thought it made sense to add some resources this month on how to keep our pets safe during the Halloween festivities.  I love handing out candy for the trick or treaters – they are so darn cute in their costumes but I have to keep in mind that it can be a stressful night for my dogs.  My husband and I manage Trick or Treat night by tag teaming duties;  Bret takes the dogs down to my studio (where they can’t hear the door bell) and piles on the sofa with them to watches a movie and I usually stay upstairs handing out the candy until Trick or Treat is over.  When the night is over I make sure to pack any left over candy well out of reach of the dogs and cats.  Its also a good time of year to remember to check your dogs tags to make sure they are still readable and considering micro-chipping your dog if you haven’t yet – this is a notorious time of year for dogs sneaking out the door unnoticed.

ASPCA Guidelines for Halloween Safety –

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Craft Tutorial – Hand Crocheted Dog Leash

art gallery 047   This is Kringles modeling one of our hand crocheted dog leashes.   Click here for a free tutorial on how to make your own!  Leash tutorial

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Being part of the solution – ideas for saving lives

According to the ASPCA five to seven million companion animals end up in shelters every year .  Of those that enter shelters between three and four million of them are euthanized.    That translates to somewhere between 8,000 – 10,000 companion animals dying EVERY DAY in our country simply because they have no home.  These are overwhelming statistics and I believe we can do much better as a nation. 

Below is a list of ideas for how we can all help save more lives.  These are ways that anyone can help…being part of the solution does not mean you necessarily have to adopt animals of your own…there are endless ways for everyone to make even very small gestures that can save more lives.

  1. ADOPT!  When looking for a new four-legged family member always consider adopting animals from shelters.  Don’t let breed preferences dissuade you from adoption; 25% of the animals that enter shelters are purebred and most breeds have breed specific rescue organizations (just google it and you will find many adoptables!)  All sizes come through shelters and there are plenty of puppies and kittens too!  A simple internet search on the type of pet you are looking for will yield many options and a trip to the local shelter to browse will surely melt your heart.
  2. ENCOURAGE OTHERS TO ADOPT.   Most people don’t realize just how many healthy cats and dogs die in shelters every day in our country; if they knew the facts it just might be enough to change their mind from purchasing a dog to adopting one.  You can be an ambassador to homeless animals by simply spreading the word about how many need to be saved.  Many people don’t consider adoption because they want a pet of a specific breed – but most breeds have breed specific rescue networks – it is just as easy to rescue a purebred as it is to buy one (and probably cheaper too)!  Many people also want a puppy – but puppies end up in shelters too.  If you have a friend considering a new pet, offer to join them on a trip to the local shelter just to check it out; sometimes trips to the shelter end in love at first sight!
  3. FOSTER!  Sometimes we aren’t ready for a full-time pet in the home.  Fostering is a great way to help and have some rewarding fun with a shelter animal for a short period of time.  Foster homes are often the difference between life and death for a pet for which there is no room in the shelter!
  4. SPONSOR!  Many shelters run sponsor programs.  If you can’t have a pet in your own home you can still sponsor one who is temporarily in a shelter and specifically help those that are in need of special care.  One of my favorite sponsor programs is the Guardian Angel Program at the Best Friend Animal Society.
  5. SPAY AND NEUTER!  A good step towards keeping animals out of shelters is to keep the pet population under control.  Spaying and neutering your pets is a great way to contribute to preventing more homeless animals.   If you know there is a cat colony in your area; contact your local shelters and inquire if there is a mobile neuter program for feral cats.
  6. DON’T JUDGE!  Sometimes a pet must be re-homed, it is difficult, but the goal is to find every pet a good forever home not to cast judgment on someone who can’t care for their pet anymore.  If you now someone who has to re-home their pet – be a supportive resource to them.  Share information about which shelters are no-kill and which are not; help them write a promo for their pet on Pet Finder; encourage them to explore every option possible before taking their pet to a shelter.
  7. VOLUNTEER!  Shelters are always short handed and the list of things to do is endless; bathe, walk, groom, socialize, feed, clean, etc.  Even if you aren’t comfortable working hands on with animals or simply can’t handle the heartbreak of spending time at a shelter there is much you can still do to help.   Shelters need volunteers to do home visits to prospective adopters.   Volunteers can do fundraising, run errands, coordinate events, office work, make phone calls, building maintenance…its endless.  Shelters also need specific expertise; lawyers, accountants, computer experts, photographers, vets, groomers, etc.
  8. DONATE!  Every penny counts when it comes to animal rescue; even a few dollars here and there makes a difference.  Shelters need more than cash…bedding, bowls, office supplies, cleaning supplies, leashes, tennis balls, cat toys, litter…its endless.   Call your local shelter and simply ask them for a wish list…you might be surprised at how many things lying around your house that are unused could help them out.
  9. DO A RUMMAGE HUNT!  Most shelters will be happy to take donations of gently used leashes, collars, bowls, toys, pet beds, towels, crates etc.  All of these items can be found for pennies on the dollar at rummage sales.   This is a fun and inexpensive way to find great items for your local shelter at a great price.
  10. THROW A PARTY!  Who doesn’t like to have a party?  Why not have one in honor of your local shelter pets!  Invite friends over for a barbecue and instead of a dish to pass ask everyone to bring an item for the local shelter.
  11. SCRAP THE GIFTS!  Why not skip gifts for the next birthday or holiday and instead everyone gives a donation or some volunteer time to the local shelter (some people even do this for their wedding)!
  12. SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL SHELTER STAFF!  Working in a rescue shelter is an incredibly draining job; physically and emotionally.  Why not bring a basket of treats (the human kind) down to your local shelter staff to show them that there are people in the community who appreciate and support their hard work?
  13. CRAFTERS AND ARTISTS ARISE!  Many shelters have events, fundraisers or even little gift shops.  Why not donate some of your arts and crafts for them to sell?
  14. START A DONATION DROP OFF SITE!  Many pet stores already have a donation box for food and items to go to the local rescue groups.  If your store doesn’t have one, why not offer to set one up and deliver the donations to the shelter yourself?  Odds are the store would be glad to do it if you are willing to administrate it!
  15. CLICK FOR FOOD!  Visit The Animal Rescue Site (  Visitor clicks on this website fund millions of bowls of food for animals in shelters.  You can even sign up to get a daily reminder to click on their website.  Purchasing items from their site creates donations as well; 3-50% of the purchase price goes to food for shelter animals.  When you make a purchase, at the end of the transaction, it will show you how many food bowls your purchase funded.
  16. HAVE A RUMMAGE SALE!  Set up a rummage sale – ask some friends to help and donate some or even all of the proceeds of your sale to the local rescue shelter.
  17. HAVE  A FOOD DRIVE!   It is common for places of business to have their own food drive.  Why not organize one at your work for the local rescue shelter?
  18. INCLUDE HOMELESS ANIMALS IN YOUR ESTATE PLAN!  What could be a better legacy than to leave a gift that saves some lives?!
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Fun Summer Table Setting

table setting 060 As the blessing of summer finally arrives in Minnesota Bret and my schedules and eating habits get more spontaneous and defintely more casual.  It’s time for grill food and casual gatherings with friends and neighbors.  I set up the kitchen table this year to reflect my earthy cottage/flea market style.  I like every nook and cranny in our home to say; “welcome…this is a place to relax and laugh.”  My decorating style also always reflects our love for our animals.  This table center setting seemed to tie all those things together for us.  I have attached a tutorial in pdf form for items on the table that  I made and details on where I purchased some of the items.


Fun Summer Table Setting

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Prevent Pet Poisoning

    Prevention & Resources

mr yukc

Most of my pet memories are the type of memories that give me the warm fuzzies.  But there is one memory  that makes me cringe;  my first dog (my Rottie puppy) had his way with  a bottle of prescription medicine.  I found a cracked open bottle and pills all over the bathroom floor.  Since I couldn’t be sure I could account for all the pills, off to the emergency vet we went.  I am certain  my rickety little GEO Metro  broke speed barriers that night.  Some wonderful vets took care of Hercules and everything turned out fine.  I, however, was horrified with myself for letting the incident happen and decided I needed to take a hard look at properly pet proofing my home.  Accidental pet poisonings are all too common and one of the main culprits is prescription and OTC drugs.  The best thing I can do as a caregiver to my pets is to prevent it from happening in the first place.

Preventing a pet poisoning starts with knowing what is toxic to our pets.  When I brought the first pets in to my home I had a huge learning curve in “all things pet” but I was a complete “goose egg” when it came to knowing how seriously dangerous some common household items are to my pets.

I also underestimated my pets’ (especially a puppy’s) ability to get into cupboards, closets and hidden corners that granted access to things that should be off limits.  I learned very quickly that pet proofing my home  was more than closing cupboards and clearing counters and it has since become part of our household management on a daily basis.  “Proofing” the home for the pets isn’t really much different from proofing a home for a child.  Over the years I have found that maintaining a pet proof home keeps my house neat because it requires being diligent about putting things away – medicines, vitamins, chewing gum, salty snacks, raisins, batteries…nothing gets left outs.

In some cases there are things that we have just parted ways with for the sake of our pets; we don’t put any presents under the Christmas tree ahead of “opening day” and you won’t find items like grapes, Easter Lillies or Poinsettia plants in our house.

Following is a summary of lessons learned for protecting our pets from poisoning that we have gathered over the years.  I hope you find it helpful.

Continue reading Prevent Pet Poisoning

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Handmade Gift Bags

Handmade Gift Bags & Card

web site stuff April 2013 032

I make this cute and inexpenisve gift bags from plain brown bags and cards and left over fabrics.  I have included a full tutorial (pdf format) free to make these – Cute gift bags

Here are some pictures of other bags I have recently made;

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Satisfying a dogs need to chew – BEST DEALS – CET Enzymatic Chews

My first dog was a Rottweiler named Hercules; he was an awesome dog but his need to chew was no joking matter.  If I didn’t provide him with an appropriate item for his chewing enjoyment at least once a day he would chew other things – like the walls of my house (no kidding).

Herc in the pool

I took the chewing issue to my vet as I didn’t feel informed about all the items sold in pet stores for chewing and we had a few bad experiences with some of them.

I wanted a dog chew that was (1) safe for my dog to chew (well as a safe as a chew can be) (2) wouldn’t make a big mess when the dog chewed it (or smell bad) and (3) was affordable.

cet chews

My vet introduced me to the CET Enzymatic chews by Virbac.    CET’s are beefhide that is treated with an enzyme that helps with plaque build up on the dogs teeth.  For our immediate needs at the time, a Rottie with a chew fettish,  the benefit for Hercules’ dental hygiene was a side-perk – we were just looking for a decent “chew” option.   Over 10 years later CET chews are the only chews I use with all of my dogs (they have been a good tool for all my dogs …Rottweiler to the Pomeranian).

For a chew, keeping in mind all chewing items carry risk for a dog, I have had minimal issues with my dogs choking or digesting these chews.  I do have a 12 year old black lab that is a really aggressive chewer that will sometimes gag a little on the chew (gross I know but he manages it himself – it has never turned in to a choking incident).  I will say, even after all these years, I supervise my dogs when they have chews – there is always the possibility of a choking incident with any chew.   My dogs have not have experienced any digestive upset from the CET chews – even my chocolate lab with a hyper-sensitive stomach.  The upside is that these chews also really do seem to help keep the dogs teeth clean.

My second criteria for a chew was that it didn’t make a mess all over the house when it was soaked with doggy saliva.  (I learned the hard way that some dog chews will stain your carpet – sure makes ya wonder what it’s doing to the dogs tummy too).   I will notice tiny little wads of the CET chew stuck to the carpet after the labs finish their chews.  The little wads do clean up easy (manual pick up – even my Dyson doesn’t get them) but there is no staining or discoloration of my carpet from the chews.  The CET chews don’t smell bad either.

The final criteria for a chew was that it was affordable.  CET Chews are actually quite expensive – especially if you have multiple dogs like we do.  Historically, I had always purchased the CET Chews at the vet office and would subsequently have a nose bleed after I wrote the check for them.  The good news is that they are becoming more widely available and the price is coming down.

The purpose for this post is to share the history I have had with these chews and to highlight the best deal I have found on them which is on the American Diabetes Wholesale website.   I pasted the link to the site here .  I purchase the chews in 5 Packs which gets me 56% off the retail price.  If your order is over $100.00 the shipping from them is free.  This works for well for us as I typically order multiple 5 packs and the Virbac toothpaste at the same time to take advantage of the free shipping.  My experience with their service so far has been good – they process the order the same day and the shipping is fast and free.  I have recently noticed a slightly better price for the CET Chews on another site,  They have a sale price that is almost $1/bag lower than American Diabetes Wholesale (as of 4/24) and they offer free shipping on orders over $85.00.  I did call them to see if this was a permanent sale price or temporary sales price and they did say it was probably a temporary sale price but its worth checking this site out too.  I  do not have any experience ordering from this company yet.

I hope you find this “BEST DEAL” post helpful.  I am NOT a paid spokesman for any product or website mentioned on this page and I don’t write product reviews on any pet items unless I have had years of experience with multiple breeds interacting with the product.  I am simply sharing our experiences in the hope we can help others with the learning curve on caring for their pets.  I will close this post with a reminder that all chew items carry a risk for a dog – when I hand out  chews to our dogs I make a cup of coffee or tea and sit down and relax with the dogs while they enjoy their treat.

As always, the first stop for any questions about a pet’s care for us will always be our veterinarian.

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Dog “Wanted Poster”

april 2 2013 001  Dog “Wanted Poster”

I made this Wanted Poster to showcase some really cute photos of my very naughty Lhasa; Lacey Mae.

I have attached a tutorial with the instructions and materials I used to make it – click here-Dog Wanted Poster