Wednesday, May 22, 2013

BlogPaws 2013: A Review

What a whirlwind this past weekend was! From Thursday May 16 to Saturday May 18, I was in Tyson's Corner, Virginia celebrating my third BlogPaws conference. It is hard to believe that not only was this my third conference, but that it was over in a blink of an eye!

Since we live only 15-20 minutes away from Tyson's, it was a nice treat to be able to drive and not have to fly like we did last year to Utah. We picked up our swag bags from BlogPaws on the way in, but were disappointed to find that they only contained dog products.

On Thursday we drove in during the afternoon, to attend a Be the Change workshop presented by my friend Robin Olson of Covered in Cat Hair & Kitten Associates. Robin's presentation covered the devastating school shooting in Sandy Hook, Connecticut (where Robin lives), how to handle the media in that sort of situation, and the program she created to give back to her hometown of Newtown. It ended with a tribute to her Kitties for Kids mascot Fred, who recently and sadly lost his battle with FIP (Feline Infectious Peritonitis). There was not a dry eye in the room.

I had to take a short break from BlogPaws in the afternoon, to run to a local pet sitting job. When I came back I said hello to some friends and found a table to sit at. We had a buffet dinner and dessert while the BlogPaws committee gave their opening remarks. My mom and I stayed and chatted with good friends before heading home for the night. It was hard to get to bed because of all the excitement, so we ended up missing a bit of the morning sessions.

One of the booths at BlogPaws, the Jones Natural Chews Co booth had little chicks up for adoption! So of course being animal lovers we had to pose with them!

My other excitement at BlogPaws was having my Sandpiper Cat tote bag come in the mail Thurdsay night! It was exciting to show off the bag and my blog's new look to everyone there! Especially Debbie Glovatsky of Glogirly, who was the one who gave my blog its makeover.

I spent a good amount of time with my friends Renee Austin of Whimsy Cats and Bernadette Kazmarski of The Creative Cat and had lunch with them. I also met a new friend (OMG A DOG BLOGGER - can you believe it, well you better) Pascale Lemire of Dog Shaming. It was nice to have a relaxing lunch with both old and now new friends!

At this point in the day, I had only been to a little bit of a breakout session - but it just wasn't holding my interest. I made my way around the vendor booths, hoping to find some cat goodies. Luckily there were some in the Cat Lounge, but ultimately it was no where near as good as last year - sadly in part because my dear friend Kate Benjamin of Hauspanther was not able to come. All the same, it was nice to have a place to sit down. BlogPaws is a lot of socializing and networking - all while standing!

Left: Disco, Right: all three cats in the stroller.
I got to spend time with Teri Thorsteinson of Curlz and Swirlz and her kitties, Coco, Brighton and Disco NoFurNo. I've known Teri pretty much my whole life - because that is how long my parents have been going to The Cat Hospital of Fairfax - where Teri works! But it is always nice to spend time with Teri outside of a work environment. I got to sit with her and her cats for a while, which was a nice break from the hussle and bussle of socializing.

Since BlogPaws didn't host a dinner Friday night, everyone seemed to have their own agendas as to where they were going to go. As for me, I hopped in my car with Renee, Bernadette and my friend Dusty Rainbolt of Adopt-a-Shelter to go down the street to the PetSmart where my dad was volunteering with our rescue. After ogling over cute kittens, we went to the restaurant affiliated with our rescue - Lost Dog Cafe. We had a nice time all chatting for a few hours before bringing everyone back to the hotel.

Saturday morning I was quite exhausted and missed the keynotes. Something I have learned from BlogPaws is that the conference is what you make out of it, so you have to be social and talk to people. Sometimes that means missing the sessions or speakers - which I hadn't really intended to do, but I had been having such a ball chatting with friends. I have been to so many of the sessions the last two conferences, that I didn't feel like I was missing out on anything much. Plus, I had run out of my allergy medication so I had to stop at the grocery store before driving into Tyson's.

With Stephanie - don't you love her cat sweater!
Saturday morning I finished making my way around all the vendor's tables and making great new contacts (there will be lots of giveaways and reviews coming up soon!!) before lunch. At the lunch, I got to sit with my good friend Caren Gittleman of Cat Chat with Caren and Cody. We had a really nice time catching up, since Caren was not able to come to BlogPaws last year in Salt Lake City. I said goodbye to Stephanie Harwin of Catsparella, because she had a long drive home ahead of her. It's always nice to catch up with Stephanie, because we always see each other at conferences as well as online! She is closer to my age than most of the people at the conference which is also very nice. Sometimes people forget that I'm only nineteen!

The rest of the conference, I went to a session on email marketing - which I found interesting. I'm thinking about involving some sort of emailing campaign or newsletter into my blog for the future. It's not something I can see doing right now, just because I know my following is of a smaller size. At least, for now! I went to the beginning of another session, but it didn't apply to me so I ended up leaving and heading back to the cat lounge. 

At the second annual Nose-to-Nose awards, a few of my friends were nominated for awards. Of course I wanted them all to win! I was so proud of Waffles Too Kitty for winning best Twitter design, Angie of Catladyland for Best Humor Blog my dear friend Joanne McGongale of The Tiniest Tiger who won best Facebook design. While all of their wins were fabulous, Joanne's win made me cry, because her cat muse Gracey (who is behind The Tiniest Tiger) passed over the rainbow bridge the night before. I know Joanne and her husband Paul miss Gracey dearly, as well as the rest of the blogging community. 

I've known Ingrid for years, it was nice to help celebrate her birthday!
My dad joined my mom and I for dinner after the awards. We headed up to Robin's room for a surprise birthday party for Ingrid King of The Conscious Cat, as it was her actual birthday! The only birthday where it was socially acceptable to play with the cats >^..^<

Coco and Disco bid us Adieu for the night.
Overall, BlogPaws is always a nice experience. Even if the information I take away is small, the friendships and network connections are incredible and I truly appreciate them! I am very thankful to all the sponsors for their amazing opportunities! A big shout out to Pet360!

I have lots of reviews of products I picked up at BlogPaws and hopefully lots of giveaways that will accompany them soon! 

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Review/Giveaway: Ella Goodwin Nail Decals on Etsy!

The ring finger is the decals you have a chance to win from this post!
Like in my previous Ella Goodwin giveaway, I am totally in love with the product that I am reviewing! And this post combines three of my favorite things: Etsy, nails & cats! Read to bottom of post for giveaway instructions!

My dear friend Ella Goodwin from the Etsy store Shop Miss Ella has created a fun look for your nails! Her cat nail decals feature her Etsy shop muse, a cat named Percy. I'm always looking for new things to spice up my manicures, and adding some cat flare really hits the mark.

Ella's Percy decals. Image used with permission by Ella.

Ella contacted me a few months ago to try out some prototypes of her nail decals. I've always struggled with growing out my nails, so the decals gave me inspiration to try and lengthen my nails for this review (and also to have pretty fingers).
The instructions are very simple. And come with the decals, of course.
Image used with permission by Ella.
I was a little nervous to apply the decals because I didn't want to mess up the polish. So what I did (which you don't necessarily have to do) is do a base coat, the polish, a top coat and then I waited a day. Then I used the instructions to apply the decals and I used the same top coat to seal it off.

My first hand features a heart with a needle, a Percy cat and a ball of yarn with a needle.

Close up of my yarn and Percy.

I have trouble keeping a manicure for more than a couple days at a time, but the polish and decals lasted about 4 days together, before I started poking at it and picking it off. And the removal process is simple and basic, just needs some nail polish remover.

I highly recommend Ella's Cat Nail Decals which you can buy on Etsy for $4.68. They come with 20 decals (4 large faces and 16 smaller). And of course, the lovely and kind Miss Ella has offered for ONE LUCKY WINNER to win the set of the Percy face cat nail decals!

I will be wearing my nail decals this weekend at BlogPaws blog conference!

To Enter: Please leave a comment (with your email or blog URL - no contact info comments will be ignored) for a chance to win, and where you would wear your nail decals to! A winner will be selected through Deadline to enter is Thursday May 23, 2013 at 12 am EST. Good luck!

The complimentary nail decals did not influence my review.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Feline Wellness: Our Cat Henry has Diabetes

I occasionally like to write posts on feline wellness, like this post I wrote in November 2011 about feline acne. We will do anything for our cats, to help them live long and healthy lives.

Henry in 2010 - blurry but one of my favorite Henry shots.
So when our ex-feral barn cat Vickie needed to have all of her teeth removed, it was done. Pearl and Piper needed dental cleanings, done. Henry has eye goo problems because he has blocked tear ducts, we clean them. Sabrina and Henry suffer from IBD (Irritable Bowl Disease) so we take care of that - Sabrina gets B12 shots each month. Sabrina tests positive for heart worm, everyone starts getting heart guard and Revolution. You see what I'm saying, if there is a problem, we do our best to fix it.
Henry in 2011
 So when our 8-year-old black cat Henry fell ill earlier this year, we took him to the vet right away. We had some sort of virus/bug run through the house and a few of the cats, including Henry, had diarrhea (lovely, right?). We had blood work done, and were able to clear the bug up. Problem solved, right? Well from the title you know there is more to the story.

So for the last few weeks, Henry hasn't been acting like himself. He normally sleeps with my dad, curled up on his head - but Henry hasn't been sleeping in their room recently. We noticed him laying around in places he doesn't typically nap. When we ran our hands down his body, we felt his spine more than usual. And to top it off, he has been drinking lots and eating a lot/always seems hungry. We knew we needed to take him to the vet to see what was up.

Monday May 6: Mom and I take Henry to the vet. Henry had gone down from 9.5 pounds to 8.5 pounds in the six weeks it had been since he had gone in for the diarrhea bug. That was concerning. Our vet didn't see anything physically wrong with him, but she had suspicions based on what we had told her about his symptoms.
My dad and Henry on the Feline Diabetes Management Board, learning all about diabetes in cats.

Tuesday May 7: Blood work comes back. Henry has diabetes! It was a surprise, even though we knew there must have been an underlying issue. But ok, we took a step back and figured out the next step to get him healthy. His blood sugar levels were in the 300s, when a normal range can be anywhere from 70-100/110 ish. We made an appointment for the next day, to learn about how to administer insulin.

Wednesday May 8: Mom, Dad, Henry and I all went to the vet. The vet tech taught us how to draw insulin out of the bottle into a needle syringe. We practiced using sterilized water and actually administering the water to Henry as practice. He didn't seem to mind, or frankly even notice. Though he would've rather been able to get down and explore!

I was amazed when I administered the sterilized water, how easily it felt to push down the needle plunger. I wasn't even sure it went in when I pushed it. It was literally so easy - which I found impossible to believe because I'm horrified of needles. I'm the kid who needs all the nurses and doctors to hold her down while she gets shots! So I was needless to say, skeptical as to whether I was going to be competent enough to administer the insulin to Henry.

Dad's blood sugar testing kit. Henry's levels were very high.
In addition to getting information about diabetes, how to administer insulin and actually getting Henry's insulin prescription for Levemir -- I learned about the signs we needed to watch for if his blood sugar got too low. Signs include vomiting, lethargy, wobbly/discordinated walking, etc. If this happens, you should feed the kitty and put Karo Syrup (it's like sugar - used in cooking - to raise the low blood sugar levels) on his gums. And of course, ultimately rush him to the emergency 24/7 vet. Which we fortunately live relatively close to.

Wednesday night after Henry (far right) had his first insulin dose.
Thursday May 9: We all carefully monitor Henry throughout the day. My dad got a blood sugar checking kit, but Henry very much dislikes having the lancet puncture his ear to draw up blood to test. After checking a few times, Henry is very sensitive about his ears and prefers right now to not have them touched (they are scabbed and obviously painful - it's like having your ear pierced/pricked). We are also feeding him when he is hungry, to help him gain weight. Henry is only 8.5 pounds, but he should be a 12 pound cat. I don't think he will ever be 12 pounds, but we are aiming for 10-11 hopefully! We have been giving him Insulin since Wednesday night.

My dad came home at 7 pm -- we are administering insulin at 7 am and 7 pm, perfect 12 hours spaced apart -- to feed the cats. We feed them and dad had me give Henry his night time insulin shot! And aside from having to adjust the amount of insulin I put in the syringe, it was easy. I didn't flinch giving Henry the Insulin, and he didn't seem to notice! Win-win!

Friday May 10: It's been a stressful couple of days, with everyone adjusting to closely monitoring Henry. We of course, are all worried about him. I'm not sure if he really knows he has diabetes, but I think he does notice he is getting a lot of attention! I administered his insulin shot again tonight, with no problem. I'm really proud of myself for facing my fear of needles and being able to give shots. If you had told me last week that I would be giving insulin shots, I would have laughed and would have said you were kidding! But now, I have something new to add to my cat ability resume >^..^<

I will definitely continue my feline wellness posts as well as post updates about Henry. I'm sure in the coming weeks I will continue to give insulin and learn more about diabetes in cats!

Friday night, Henry helps me study for finals.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Spotlight Post: Floof Bug Etsy Shop

I love shopping therefore I love Etsy. And when I read my friend Catsparella's Floof Bug Giveaway post, I had to hop over to Kellie Michelle's Etsy page and paperie shop!

Kellie is located in San Diego, California. She made a change in 2012, when she decided to start her own business - Floof Bug! Kellie has a selection of stationary, notecards, prints, necklaces and headbands featuring her animated kitty, Lulu Lolli. Lulu Lolli is inspired by her cat Lulu!

Lulu! Photo courtesy of Kellie.

A box full of Lulu. Photo courtesy of Kellie.

Kellie loves smarties, so naturally her pictures in her shop are set up with a candy background.

Smarties and cats, does it get better?

In addition to loving shopping, I am also a huge letter writing nerd and stationary junkie. I loved her stationary set featuring her Lulu Lolli images and a chandelier! 

Photo courtesy of Kellie.

I purchased the stationary writing set for $10 on sale - they are normally $14. This design isn't available, but other ones that are currently you can find here. Kellie has a promotion code currently - MAYPROMO2 that gives free shipping! You can enter it at the check out. The sets come with 8 sheets of paper, 4 envelopes and 4 stickers.

Below are pictures of my letter writing process and my thoughts!

My completed letter to my friend Lindsay, written on a piece of pink stationary and a piece of blue stationary. I wrote it with my fountain pen and it did not bleed through (which is always a concern).  The paper is really nice quality and has a great feel to it.
Fountain pens always make me want to write in cursive, the paper was very easy to write on and the ink went on smoothly.
I had to sign a little paw next to Lulu!
And of course I had to close the envelope with a Lulu sticker!

I really enjoyed writing a letter to my friend, Lindsay, on the stationary. It was a nice change of pace from my usual stationary and it's always fun to have cat stationary! The paper is beautiful and well worth the price. And don't forget the free shipping code (Maypromo2) that you can use for free shipping!

Make sure to visit Kellie and her amazing creations on her Etsy page and enjoy her beautiful selections of products!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Post #100 - Rejuvenation

Dear Readers,

Thank you for following me these past two amazing years that have brought us to my 100th post! I knew when I started this blog, that writing was my passion and I wanted to have a writing career.

Writing one of my first blog posts, with Piper on my lap.
I started my blog in March 2011 because I had a young and pregnant foster kitten, Piper. I wanted to chronicle her journey and her kittens' birth and road to adoption. If you've followed the Piper aspect of my blog, you know she lost her kittens the first night we had her and I nursed her back to health. I decided to continue my blog as a tribute to her lost kittens as well as chronicle our journey together -- because there was no way she was leaving me, she was going to be adopted by us.

Piper and I both have come a long way. Piper has grown up into a beautiful and very fluffy cat (she has such a large ruff, we think she may be part Maine Coon!) and I have graduated high school and have gone through some major schooling and life changes!

Our 100th post anniversary pose! Can you see the love?
I love my blog so much, it has become a wonderful writing outlet that allows me to say exactly what I want. SO without further ado, I must tell you that I decided to "freshen" up my blog look in honor of my 100th post!

I briefly met Debbie Glovatsky of Glogirly at my trip to the BlogPaws 2012 Conference in Salt Lake City, Utah. Ever since then, I have been a huge fan of her work and amazing photo-shop designs. I love her pithy posts between her cat Katie and new kitten Waffles. Her posts are always the first I read when I get up in the morning.

Debbie recently launched Glogirly Design, where she offers an extensive list of design services to help you spruce up your blog, at an amazing price! I contacted Debbie to see about creating a custom header and social media buttons for my blog, to make it look fresh and new.

Debbie asked a series of questions and I explained what I was looking for and sent her some pictures. I wanted to have my new look ready before the May 16-18 BlogPaws Conference in Tysons Corner, VA next week. I got an email very quickly after I told Debbie what I wanted, with a mock up. Essentially what you see at the top of my blog is what she sent me.

Is it possible Debbie read my mind? She certainly did her research because the girl looked just like me, the cat just like Piper and above all, a beautiful beach background featuring my favorite shade of blue. We made the decision to change my blog title to Sandpiper Cat and use "We Have a Situation" (my old blog title) as my tag line.

Debbie was amazingly easy to work with. She is a diligent and hard worker, with an amazing vision and eye for graphics. Debbie was able to create exactly what I wanted to give my blog - a breath of fresh air. And I have to say, it really looks splendid.  Even my Facebook page has a matching look to go with the blog!

So without further ado, I am very pleased to present you the fresh new face of "Sandpiper Cat Blog" and new look that accompanies it. IF you are interested in Debbie's designs, visit her at and Debbie is wonderful to work with and a very sweet lady. I'm ever so thankful for her amazing blog update expertise and can't stop gushing at the new look!

I hope you enjoy the new look and make sure to check out both of Debbie's page. Please feel free to ask any questions you have to both her and me! Again, Debbie is a wonderful person to work with and her design rates are great! We created a budget and stuck with it, Debbie goes the extra mile to make you happy! She was able to turn the project around in a matter of days.

So I end this post saying welcome new friends and old! And a big, huge, gigantic size thank you to Debbie Glovatsky for the amazing work and friendship we have created! I will see you at BlogPaws!

Rachel and Sandpiper

Pearl's LRD (Little Red Dress)

I have to admit, ever since I launched the Pearl's Basement Excavations section of my blog, she hasn't brought anything up from the basement. That was, until the other day she brought up this little romper barbie dress (LRD - little red dress) from the basement!

Someone has a treasure trove of Barbie clothes, hidden away and I always wonder what she is thinking when she carries it up from the basement.

We are planning to clean our basement up this summer, and make it into a man cave for my younger brother -- but I can assure you I will leave the Barbie box cracked open for Pearl, so that she can continue to excavate and discover treasure!

This was covered in white fur (Pearl's, clearly) and I tape rolled it off.

I think Pearl must like the velcro back :)

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Review: Soul Comfort for Cat Lovers by Liz Eastwood

The cover of Liz's book!

Anyone who has ever owned a cat can understand the devastating feeling of loss. As someone who has lived with cats my whole life, I have sadly lost my fair share of furry friends. Learning how to cope with death is a natural part of life.

Everyone deals with death differently. When my friend Liz Eastwood, from Natural Cat Care Blog, asked if I would like to review her new book about coping with loss, I was extremely interested in taking a look. Her book was titled Soul Comfort for Cat Lovers: Coping wisdom for heart and soul after the loss of a beloved feline.

Liz knew she wanted to write a book called “Never Say ‘Just a Cat’” but every time she sat down to write about cats and their bond with humans, she gravitated towards writing about recovering from grief. It’s not a surprise, considering what she went through with the loss her cat, Bastet.
Bastet. Photo courtesy of Liz Eastwood.
As readers learn in Liz’s book, her cat Bastet “was diagnosed with high-grade intestinal lymphoma – the kind of cancer for which all vets give a short-term death prognosis.”  Liz experienced great guilt because she couldn’t save Bastet from cancer.

In the third chapter, Liz offers a chart of what feelings people experience after a death, including guilt; a feeling that is very common when dealing with death.  
The list from chapter 3 with all the emotions felt after loss.
When I asked Liz about how she got the inspiration for writing on this topic – she told me that she was surprised she had so much enthusiasm for [writing about] a rather depressing experience.

“I pondered and researched the big questions about life and death more than I ever had before. I wanted to write the book I wished I’d had when I needed it. I wanted it to feel like a friend, to honor how strong a feline-human bond can be, and to really help people who were deeply suffering,” said Liz.

There is a particular passage I wanted to share from Liz’s book, because it really resonated with me.

“One day, not long after Bastet died, I was driving home from work, and was struck by several powerful waves of grief in my chest. Through my tears, I thought: How am I going to drive safely on this freeway now?”

Beautiful Bastet - photo courtesy of Liz Eastwood.
--  I went through something similar after finding out we had to put our four kitten fosters to sleep because they had been exposed to VS-Calici (Virulent Strain Feline Calici Virus) a deadly virus that put all of our present house cats at risk (read about my experience with that, here). I remember my dad leaving a message explaining that he was going to take the kittens to the vet to be put down and I completely lost it. I was out at PetSmart and Target getting some kitten supplies and I frantically drove home the longer way because the parkway was closed; ignoring the speed limits and bawling so loud it hurt. I knew I was putting my life at danger driving like that, but I had to get home and see the kittens one last time. The grief I experienced after losing the four foster kittens would have been soothed for sure, by Liz’s book.

I highly recommend Soul Comfortfor Cat Lovers to the cat community – for those who are grieving recent losses, all the way to people who are grieving losses from years ago. This book stirs up wonderful memories that are joyous to relive; even the sad memories are a gentle reminder of a wonderful life. The experience of reading such a comforting book is a wonderful way to learn how to cope with grief.

Liz self published her book, and it is available for purchase ($12.95) on Amazon here.

Liz currently lives with her two fabulous cats Phil and Joel.
Before I end a review, I always like to ask if the author has a new book in the works. Here is what Liz said:

“All I know is [that] I love the process of writing books, so I definitely want to do more.”