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christmas gift for pet lovers

  • Bird Houses

    bird in winter

    I have a group of bird photos like this that cycle through on my computer for my screen saver, and they are just stunning. But, as attractive as they are to look at, winter is a really tough time for these tiny creatures. Many manage to survive, thanks to birders everywhere who provide food and shelter. Many don't make it. We've been doing a series of posts recently about this, and coming up with ways to help these little guys.

    We've already covered different ways to feed the birds here and here, and yesterday we covered some simple and natural shelters that most anyone can do. Today I want to show you how simple it is for all you handy, crafty people to build your own!


    This bird shelter is made from a single pine board and requires only a few simple tools to create. The best part about making your own bird feeder is that you will save all kinds of crazy money that you can then spend on feed! It's a great way to stretch a dollar, and besides, it's very satisfying to look out your window and see what you've created with your own hands. You can get the instructions here for this little project.

    2 dollar bird houseHere is another bird shelter that is easy to create. This one is made from just about any 1 x 6 natural, unstained wood stock. That means you could make great use of the scrap wood laying around the shop or garage. You could make several of these and either provide them to your neighbors or sell 'em for a couple bucks. Who knows, maybe this will spark a nice winter project for years to come. :)

    There are also many places online that sell kits. Just google it. Just a few places to get you started are Amazon, Walmart and Home Depot.  I think something like this would make a fantastic Christmas gift for your birder friend!

    If you aren't really into making your own, there are plenty of really nice shelters available for sale at garden centers and other shops. Bottom line is that no matter how you come upon a bird shelter to place in your yard, you are doing a world of good.

    Merry birding!

    Photo courtesies: Bird

  • Helping Others Help Themselves

    stormWe had a rip roaring storm blow through last night, complete with 50-60 mph gusts and golf ball sized hail. It was over in a matter of minutes, and wasn't as severe as others have been. However, for people who have ever lived through a tornado or hurricane level straight line winds, any event like this is scary.

    Best to be prepared, no? It may not be on the top of everyone's I-gotta-have-this-for-Christmas-or-I'll-die list, but you can be sure that adults who HAVE survived these horrible storms will be so grateful. There are lots of resources online for putting together emergency kits, many of them selling you something. I have compiled a list of items to stock up on, and if you are building your own emergency kit, it's the perfect opportunity to buy double or triple quantities to give to loved ones.

    • Water - the recommended quantity is one gallon per person per day, 3 days minimum. Nursing moms and those who are sick may need more. Purchase bottled water, and store in a dry, cool place without opening.
    • Food - canned foods with high water content, dry cereal, salt free crackers and dry mixes . . . things that don't require refrigeration. Include a manual can opener too. :)
    • Mess kit, complete with paper plates, cup and towels and plastic utensils.
    • Battery powered or hand-crank weather radio. I picked up one of the hand cranked types for my husband a couple years ago and they work well. Most come with a battery option, so keep plenty of batteries stocked with it.
    • Flashlight AND extra batteries! Enough said.
    • Emergency candles and matches, stored in a water proof container.
    • First aid kit - doesn't have to be huge, but a basic one with sterile dressings, cleaning agent, antibacterial ointment, and latex gloves. A first aid reference manual is a great idea too.
    • Whistle - if there is a rescue team trying to get to you, this will be such a great help.
    • Extra cell phone battery and non electric charging devices.
    • Pet food and water.
    • Blanket for each person.

    This list is clearly not exhaustive, but any of these items would be a great way to say "I love you", don't you think? Last night's storm reminded me that I want to get some of these things for my 20-something kids. I know they're invincible, but I can't help myself. ;)


    Photo courtesy


  • Dog Days of Summer

    Here in Minnesota we cram as much as we can into our summer months, such as our summers are. During the March blizzards and the April snow storms, threats are issued to the first person to complain about how hot it is once summer arrives. We love love love those hot summer day even if some of us voice less than positive opinions about them!

    I don't know how these hot, sultry days became known as "dog days", but since we're on the topic of dogs, it's the perfect time to think about DIY gifts for our furry friends. Nice segue, eh? :) Here's a few ideas:

    My step daughter, Monica has a Newfie name Sirius. Sirius weighs in now at around 140# and gets very very hot in the summer months. So to help, Monica fills a bucket with water, puts it in the freezer, and then gives the resulting ginormous ice cube to Sirius to play with. If there is a doggy heaven, Mr. Sirius is clearly in it whilst demolishing that hunk of ice. It's very adorable. He's about 6 months old in this picture.

    Recycle old t-shirts that are stained or too worn to wear into this easy fetch-or-chew toy. Using two t-shirts, cut 2 or 3 inch wide slits along the bottom edge of both. Then tear the fabric, and you've got perfect sized clothe strips. Gather the strips in a bundle, and tie off one end into a knot.  Separate the  strips into 3 sections and braid. Tie off the end and trim any excess strips. So easy.


    And last, a toy for the dog who loves that crunchy sound! Use a large (empty) water bottle for a large dog and a smaller one for a small dog. Find a sock that is large enough to hold the water bottle, and put the bottle inside of it. Tie a knot in the end. Man's best friend will drive you nuts with the noise, but will also likely stay out of trouble too!


    Happy dog days of summer to you!


    Photo courtesy: Basset Hound, Braided toy, Crunchy toy

  • The Gift of Time

    It's Friday morning, the very last day of the work week, the day many have been looking forward to since Monday. We drag ourselves out of bed, stumble to the coffee pot and go through our morning rituals. Thank God it's Friday!

    This morning, in a most uncharacteristic manner, I bounded out of bed at 5am. Why, you ask? I had a coffee date with a good friend to get to! These java sipping events are one of the great pleasures of my life; they are the times when we talk about our lives, what's important to us, what's happening within our families, etc. It's also a place where dreams can and do spring up and are spoken out loud, sometimes for the first time.  My date this morning was with a good friend who has walked with me through it all . . . the happy, glorious days, the painful, unsettling and uncertain ones and everything in between.  Who wouldn't get out of bed early for that!

    The gift of time. There is nothing like it. You can't go to the store and buy more when you run out, you can't ever take it back once given. It is not a renewable resource; how many times have we said in frustration "that's an hour I'll never get back"?

    Giving time is a pretty special thing. I read a story this morning about a family who planned a birthday party for their 90 year old father/grandfather/uncle. It took an enormous amount of time emailing family members,  arranging and paying  for travel, setting up accommodations to host the family, preparing food,  packing and traveling.

    When the day for this grand event finally arrived, the 90 year old guest of honor had  a dozen or so family members on the edge of their seats, telling the stories of his life! Celebrating it all! Talk about memories! Small memento gifts were given, like a box of chocolates, a bottle of champagne, but the best gift of all he received that day was, without a doubt, their time.

    Next time I are tempted to run out to the store to purchase a gift, I'm going to stop and remember this story and the coffee chats that mean so much.  Maybe save a little gas and money, and pick up the phone instead.

    You with me?

    Photo credit

  • Personalized Pet Stockings & Ornaments

    What do you get for the puppy that has everything? Whether it's your dog, or just a pooch for whom you need to buy a Christmas gift, a personalized item is the way to go. Check out this adorable stocking, decorated with tiny bones and paw prints, and customized with your dog's name.

    It would be much better than the special Christmas gift my Grandpa once gave our dog. Apparently he had a little extra time on his hands in his retirement, because he used food coloring to dye some dog treats red and green. This was before the days of Pinterest, mind you. Let's just say poor Annie couldn't keep the brightly-colored treats down.

    Another way to celebrate your dog is with a special Christmas tree ornament, complete with a photo and doggy's name. How sweet to have a series of ornaments, to capture him growing up from that first puppy Christmas.

    And don't forget your favorite feline. I know she acts aloof, but she'll make you pay if everyone has a stocking except her, you know she will! That's why there's a personalized stocking option for your cat.

    The beauty of the custom ornaments is that you submit the photo and text, and Merry Stockings does the rest. That means they're perfect for your bird, your fish, your horse, your exotic white tiger.

    What are the best gifts you've given your pet?



  • Top 5 Gift Ideas Under $20 for EVERYONE!

    Times are rough, but that should stop you from buying your friends, family and loved ones great Christmas gifts. suggests these gifts under $20!

    1. Personalized Christmas Stockings. We all know just how great it feels to get personalized Christmas stockings that we can decorate with all around the house, so why not give it to your friends and help them start a tradition?

    We recommend four designs:
    Felt Applique Christmas Stocking Kit: Sequined Santa
    Felt Applique Christmas Stocking Kit: Toboggan Trio Stocking
    Felt Applique Christmas Stocking Kit: Winter Snooze
    Felt Applique Christmas Stocking Kit: Peace Santa

    2. Spiderpodium. Almost every one has an iPod, iPhone, e-book reader and a host of different gadgets, but there is no single way to hold or store them on their desk, in their car, or everywhere else. The Spiderpodium can take care of that.

    3. Plain Classic Brass Christmas Stocking Holder. Christmas stocking holders make it easy and convenient for people to hang their Christmas stockings. This plain classic brass Christmas stocking holder is an elegant and simple piece of art that will delight your recipients!

    4. Solar Powered Mosaic Jar Globe with Jewel Tones. A great way to light up the evenings outdoors, this is one cool and elegant lamp that is both earth-friendly and captivating to the eyes!

    5. Gift Certificates. As much as you would want to choose the perfect gift for everybody, there will always be those people who you can't seem to find a gift for. Don't sweat it! You can always give them a gift certificate that would allow them to choose their gifts for themselves. have just recently added gift certificates to its roster of Christmas products, so that you could truly give them the best gift they want!

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