Cat Bonnet Review

cat-bonnetThe last White Elephant gift you’ll ever need is here: the Cat Bonnet.

When I saw a friend from high school post pictures of her cat in a sun bonnet, it was eye catching to say the least. When I saw the packaging, I couldn’t stop laughing at its proclamation that “Cats love it!” The joke is, of course, that cats hate being dressed up in anything. Just ask any child who has ever attempted to dress her cat in doll clothes. It probably didn’t end well. Yet somehow my friend’s cat was wearing a bonnet and she and her boyfriend had lived to tell the tale.

I admit that I drove to the closest gift shop to buy one the next day just so I could report to you, dear readers, that the cat bonnet is real and not a myth. And there it was on the shelf! The shop happened to be GoodThings, but I hear Patina also sells them. If you don’t have those near you, think upscale gift shops that sell expensive cards, magnets with funny sayings to accompany vintage pictures and state pride wall art.

With zero shame, I paid $7.95 (“here, take my money! I need this cat bonnet in my life”) knowing full well it was last thing the cats wanted in their lives. We all know this “gift” was actually for me, but we’re pretending here okay?!

cat-bonnet-reviewDo cats really love the cat bonnet?

When I tried the “100% cotton lined with satin!” bonnet on the cats, they didn’t hate it. I was, I’ll admit, shocked. They didn’t recoil or give signs of wanting to end it all. One of them seemed to actually…enjoy it. I put the bonnet on when each cat was happy and being petted, so I wasn’t chasing a cat around the room like a crazy person trying to dress it up. Because only crazy people try to dress cats up, am I right?! Ahem. Moving on.

The only one who really disapproved of the Cat Bonnet was the dog.

cat-bonnet-on-dogIt’s a novelty gift, meaning it has no real purpose besides being hilarious. Sorry to disappoint you but your cat isn’t going to wear this around the house on the daily. You can get a few pictures in and that will probably be it (it’s been in its box since these pictures were taken). And while it’s mostly safe for the cat to wear if you tie it gently, you need to monitor the cat while it has strings tied under its chin. I recommend washing it first, because it had a weird chemical smell cats might not like. I do wish there were multiple fabric patterns instead of the generic beige calico. This will quite possibly be my go-to gift when I’m invited to a gift exchange or white elephant party.

Congratulations, your transformation into Crazy Cat Lady is now complete.

New Year’s Cards

christmas-cardsHappy New Year!

Do you send out holiday cards? After two years of being a freelance business owner, I sent out my first set mailing to my clients and friends to say thank you for their support over the last year and wish them the best in the year ahead. I absolutely love snail mail, and I hope the recipients appreciate it too. This year I traded Christmas cards with other bloggers and creative business owners from my area and it was so fun to send and receive paper stationary instead of e-mails!

blogger-christmas-cardsI love photographing flat lays (as evidenced by my Instagram), so I just had to design my own card, from the photo to writing the messaging and arranging the fonts. The florals were re-purposed as well from previous events, and I had the ribbon and pine cones left over from an assignment I’d done for Midwest Living. After all, there’s no rule that as a creative every idea you have has to stand alone as unique. Let one creative endeavor inspire the next. Here’s a photo from that shoot below, so you can see how similar they are to each other.

Paint pinecones for a multi-purpose seasonal craftLet each creative endeavor you undertake inspire the next. Click To Tweet

I debated a while about the message (Merry & Bright was a strong contender), but I wrote this one to be inspiring and non holiday specific. A local printing shop, Visions, did my printing and I was so pleased with the end result.

For addressing the cards, I used a brush pen to make pretty lettering. Also, you’ve got to check out the National Parks US postage stamps! Looking at the stamp sheet is like taking a mini tour of some of the major National Parks.

addressing-christmas-cardsHappy New Year! I hope you’re super excited for what lies ahead in 2017.

Brown Paper Packages Tied Up with String

Eco-friendly gift wrapEco-Friendly Wrapping Options

I love wrapping paper. Each year I love finding artistic paper options that aren’t typical Christmas designs (like the ones below!). But I definitely do not love throwing away the packaging after the gifts have been opened. For a few years now I’ve worked on my collection of pre-wrapped boxes that can be used year after year. There is a downside to those, and that’s storage space. This year, I experimented with the trend of minimalist, nature-inspired wrapping techniques. Here are my Eco-friendly gift wrap solutions to try.

Gift wrapBrown paper Packages, twine and greenery

They look elegant and well-designed, but these packages are covered with things you probably already have in the kitchen! All you need is brown paper, twine and greenery sprigs and you’re golden!

eco-friendly-gift-wrap-with-sprig-of-greenery“But where do you get these sprigs, Abbie?” You may be asking. Mine are taken floral arrangements. Greenery usually lasts longer than the blooms themselves, so you canĀ  re-purpose it on your gifts. If you have a real Christmas tree you could also take a piece off of that in a place that’s not very noticeable…just throwing out ideas here!

eco-friendly gift wrappingFor the paper, I used a brown grocery bag, but you could also try newspaper or the beige paper than comes in shipping boxes. Eco-friendly twine and re-purposed ribbon tied them off. There’s something very personal about the appearance of these packages, don’t you think, like they’re designed with the recipient in mind.

Plaid and greenery: eco-friendly gift wrappingAnother option I discovered this year for re-usable gift wrap is a reusable shopping tote. They’re no more expensive than paper gift bags, and the recipient can use it again and again. I found a Minnesota-themed tote at Trader Joe’s this year and it was perfect for large gifts.

What are you wrapping your gifts with this year?

eco-friendly-gift-wrapping

Be Prepared for Winter Emergencies

make-your-winter-emergency-car-kitThis week in Minnesota, the temperatures dipped to -20 F. That’s dangerously cold (they actually close schools when it gets too cold!). Today it’s 20 degrees ABOVE zero which comparatively seems like spring. If that sounds even remotely like where you live, you’ll want to make sure your car winter survival kit is up to date. If you’re from a more temperate region, feel free to skip ahead to pet paw stockings and cookie baking and try not to gloat too much on your way out.

As much as I sometimes wish I could just stay home and make snowman cookies, life goes on in sub-zero temps. There are events that I have to get to for work, no matter what the road conditions are like. And while I hope I never have to use my car emergency kit, I know it’s something I have to have (at least until spring, when I can celebrate by eating the fruit and nut bars out of the tin).

winter-car-kitWhat to include in your winter car kit

In case your car breaks down in winter, stay as safe and comfortable as you can until help arrives (obviously call 911 with your cell phone while you wait).

  1. A tin to hold everything in. This is a great use for the cookie tins you’ll have left over after the holidays.
  2. Food. In case of emergency, you’ll want food to keep your blood sugar (and spirits) up. Wrapped foods that don’t perish easily such as beef jerky or energy bars are good choices.
  3. Candles and matches (could also be flares and/or flashlight).
  4. Blankets. I keep a fleece blanket in my car, as well as Mylar blankets which are made to keep your body heat in if you car breaks down.
  5. Hand and foot warmers. I used these when I worked outside at Ice Castles. These little packets heat up when you shake them and stay warm for a few hours. They are sized to fit into gloves or boots.

These are the bare minimum you should absolutely have on hand when driving in the winter. There are bigger things you should also probably have that won’t fit in a tin, such as a bag of sand or litter and snow shovel. The state of Wisconsin has a Winter Safety Checklist. The website recommends keeping your emergency kit in the main compartment of your car because the trunk can become frozen shut.

And one last piece of advice from a Midwesterner: every time you leave the house bring warm boots, warm coat and winter hat and gloves. If you’re dressed up really cute and don’t want to mess up your hair, take off your heels or look like the Michelin man, just throw them in the backseat. The important this is you have them if needed. Stay safe this winter!

make-a-winter-emergency-car-kit

Chocolate Chip Snowman Cookies

snowman-cookies-gluten-freeDo you want to bake a snowman?

It’s easier than you think! After seeing a few other bloggers make snowman brownies, I decided why not try snowman cookies? They’d be popular with the kids I babysit for and look really cute on display at a potluck holiday party. And they’re gluten free when you use this brand of frozen cookie dough.

I started with these things:

chocolate-chip-cookie-dough-gluten-freeIngredients:

  • Pre-packaged gluten free chocolate chip cookie dough from Immaculate Baking (or use your own dough of any kind)
  • Powdered sugar
  • Coconut flakes
  • Mini chocolate chips
  • Gluten free pretzels

cooking-with-immaculate-baking-coI used a ceramic rolling pin (pictured above) to roll the cookie rounds flat.

After baking, add pretzel stick arms to half the cookies. After cooling, simply add put two cookies together, frost, and sprinkle with coconut flakes.

assembling-snowman-cookiesDecorate with mini chocolate chip eyes. The nose is a real carrot, cut to size. You could probably add a frosting scarf and make a hat out of something–if you figure that part out let me know!

coconut-snowman-cookiesNow your snowman entourage is ready to go to holiday parties (or right into your tummy).

Don’t miss out on your $ off coupon and more cute recipe ideas from the post sponsor, Immaculate Baking Co!

What holiday cookie is your favorite? Let me know in the comments!

gluten-free-snowman-cookies

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