We are blessed with two extremely loveable yet mildly neurotic mastiffs. I’ve written before about the lengths we’ve gone to to soothe our male dog Sofa’s anxiety issues. One huge help has been hiring someone to stay with our dogs in their home when we go out of town. The only problem is, each of our two dogs weighs 100+ pounds, so unless she has a friend available to help, our dog sitter has to walk them one at a time. So to help alleviate the dogsâ€™ stress of being alone in the house or having the routine changed a bit, this is what I devised:
1) Two words: Kong Wobbler. Our dogs are pretty crafty and mighty chewers, so normal Kong toys werenâ€™t much of a challenge for them. The Wobbler is a whole ‘nother story. Instead of rubber like regular Kongs, this one is made of thick, hard plastic that unscrews so you can put treats inside. The bottom is weighted so that the toy wobbles (of course) and rolls, and the small opening makes it a lot more challenging for our dogs to get to the treats. We did a test run with the Wobblers before we left town, and our dogs were positively obsessive about them. They chewed them furiously without doing much more than putting a few grooves in the plastic, and because the toys are a bit slippery in addition to being wobbly, our dogs actually got a lot of exercise jumping up to chase after them. One note: when the hard-plastic Wobblers hit the floor, they are loud. So unless your home is fully carpeted, don’t give out these toys if you plan to take a nap.
2) This may convince you that Iâ€™m a little neurotic, too. Thereâ€™s nothing that makes our dogs happier than a new toy, so I bought new versions of several of their proven favorites, plus two all-new toys to try. After removing all the tags, I divided the toys up into bags labeled with days of the week. On the designated day, our do sitter can simply open a bag and hand a brand-new Doggles MonsterPull, Kong Plush Snake or JW Pet iN Action toy to each dog. Presto, occupado!
Nothing can replace a lot of love, some human playtime, or a good long walk, but so far it appears that these strategies are keeping my dogs saneâ€”and our dog sitter, too. â€“Mary T.
P.S. The iN Action toy is new, so I donâ€™t know yet how that one will work out, but all the rest of these toys have been proven to stand up to extremely vigorous play and chewing.
Around the holidays, besides the focus on entertaining, gifting and shipping deadlines, my thoughts often return to where I want to spend my charitable dollars to help those in need. This year, I’m thankful to be working for a company that partners with St. Jude Children’s Research HospitalÂ®Â in their annual Thanks and GivingÂ®Â campaign which asks all holiday shoppers to â€œgive thanks for the healthy kids in your life and give to those who are not.â€ It costs an incredible $1.7 million a day to operate St. Jude, and more than 75% of that funding is derived from public donations. Luckily, some of our favorite home retailers have answered the call again this year with an assortment of holiday goods benefiting St. Jude. From hostess-gift-giving to stocking-stuffing to holiday decorating, the Williams-Sonoma family of brands has us covered while donating 50% of the purchase price of the following products to this worthy cause.
Not interested in product? The Williams-Sonoma family of brands will also donate $5 for the purchase of your eGift Card when you select the St. Jude option at West Elm, Pottery Barn, PBteen, Pottery Barn Kids or Williams-Sonoma.
To donate directly to St. Judes Children’s Research HospitalÂ®, click here.
– Sarah C.
As this Thanksgiving rolls around, we are thankful that is our FIFTH Shelterrific Thanksgiving. We’ve covered our favorite feast from many angles, and thought it might be worth taking a moment to click down memory lane. From the great brine debate to the ultimate one-hour holiday meal, there’s a lot of great advice in these here posts. See some of our favorites, below.
How do you cook your bird?
With the holidays coming up, I’ve been debating all of the various ways I could dress my Thanksgiving table. I always dream of being the kind of girl that uses chargers – they have this way of making a table setting look instantly glamorous and elegant, no matter how ordinary your dinnerware. But really, who has storage space for a set of plates that aren’t really plates, that you use only once or twice a year? Moreover, who has energy to hand wash one more round of dishes at the end of the night?
Leave it to the geniuses at Chilewich to come up with the solution. Their Dahlia placemats look absolutely amazing under even the simplest white dishes. The metallic tone is the perfect touch of glam for a holiday table. And the best part about these beautiful mats? They’re plastic – so they can be wiped off, rolled up, and stashed in the tiniest corner of your kitchen cupboard until next year. Though really, they’re so pretty and polished, I have a feeling I’ll be using these year-round…which is definitely more than I could say for those chargers. Plus, at only $8 each, they won’t break the bank.
I’ll be using them to top a classic white linen tablecloth and set off my white dinnerware from West Elm – with a beautiful red apple on everyone’s plate (these gorgeous candles from DL & Company would double as excellent favors/gifts for your guests, if you’re so inclined) and a few mercury glass candlesticks, this year’s Thanksgiving table will be stunning, with hardly an ounce of effort on my part. –Becki S.
I am one of those cooks who always makes a mess. I splatter, splot, drip and am constantly reaching for a towel or a rag to wipe my hands on. Sure, I have worked my way through a few aprons, but none of them have become indispensable and are often left hanging on a hood rather than around my neck. But this lovely, clever number from Studio Patro makes my heart flutter. Its straps are on grommets and designed not to strain your neck and it has pockets for those constantly misplaced tasting spoons and tea towels. The linen/cotton blend gets softer with each wash. At $68, they are a bit pricey, but a wonderful gift idea of the chef in your house. – Angela M.