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Thursday, May 29, 2014

Early Summer Fun 2014

I made a little craft kit for the little girls of a good friend.  The girls and his wife are super crafty, so I knew I just had to send them a fun little packet!  It had stickers inside, small kits, extra craft supplies, bits of paper.  Their eldest is the same age as Tate, 8/9, so I knew she could handle a little stitching, so I added a stitched felt kit.  (Sidenote: Tate is doing stitchery in art class and finds it delightful!)
This kit was super easy to make.  2 felt hearts (cut with pinking shears), a little stuffing, a needle and embroidery thread.  I threaded the needle so that it would be ready to go, and she had it finished while we were all waiting for brunch at a restaurant!  

Soleil was not about to be left out of any sort of crafting.  Thank goodness I made her a fairy kit as well as my friends' girls.  She was so excited to put it together. 
Doll Clothespins+circles of scrap fabric and felt-small "x" cut in center+yarn or wool for hair+ribbon piece for shirt+wings cut from cardstock+pipe cleaner for arms+marker for face and feet.

And since it has been 90F, playing in the hose an sprinklers are almost expected.
(When you do this at other people's houses, you might have to walk home, shirtless, dripping wet, and in a Cars towel.)

Frozen treat on a hot day!!  
Frozen pineapple+splash of almond milk+squirt of honey+water as needed.  

Monday, May 19, 2014

More Travel with Pets--Cats

And in collaboration with @KendraThornton, here is my article about pet travel.  Enjoy!
On the Road with Kitty 
by Catherine Chin Schwartz

I used to travel with my cats, Smokey & Sabrina, whenever I would visit my parents or whenever we moved to a new home(which was often), bringing them even to Europe!

Here is my list of things to make things a little easier when traveling with a cat:

    1.     A good site for finding pet friendly hotels is
    2.     Make sure while on the road, they have plenty of water.  I used a bowl with higher sides (to prevent     spills) on top of a plastic place mat on the floor of the car. 
    3.     Make sure you don’t overheat the cat—keep the air conditioner on in summer, and obviously don’t leave them in the car for more than a few minutes.  (If your air conditioning happens to break enroute, they will unhappily lie on a block of ice as a last resort, but be fine.  This was my husband’s genius solution to a very long and hot move from TX to MO during the summer.)
    4.     Pack Nature’s Miracle in a small spray bottle, an old towel or two, and some baby wipes in case the     animal soils the car or hotel in any way.
   5.     Ask your vet for a gentle sedative.  They still may meow for a few minutes when you first start your trip, until they settle in.  I used to put one of my cats on the seat next to me, petting him along the way, and he was fine.  The other preferred to hang out in the pet carrier.
   6.     Always bring a cat carrier to transport your kitty into the hotel, as well as to provide a cozy spot that he is familiar with during your travels.
    7.     Pack a small portable litter box, good clumping litter, and extra bags.  When you arrive at the hotel, set it up in the bathroom, and bring the cat straight to the box.
   8.     Cats can be skittish, and wary of new places.  In order to settle them in to a new place (hotel, temporary home), stay with them for a bit before leaving them.  It might be a good idea to order dinner in, or send someone else for food.     
    9.     Always attach a leash to your pet before opening the car door.  You can never be too cautious with your furry family member.
  10.   I have flown with my cats, and it always went well.  There are additional charges and you must contact the airline ahead of time to schedule even an under-the-seat pet. 

Your cat isn’t as comfortable on the road as he is at home, but he is comforted by the fact that you, his people, are with him. 

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Guest Blogger: Travel with Pets!

I am honored to have my first guest post from @KendraThornton, a travel tweeter and TV personality with a Chicago following.  We are collaborating on a few articles, as we both have travelled often and would love share our experiences with you.

How to Keep Your Pets Comfortable When Traveling
Bringing pets on vacation is both fun and challenging. I wouldn't even consider not bringing our beloved family dog with us when we travel, but it does take some special preparations. I'm having family visiting me here in Chicago next month, and they'll be bringing along their own dog. I've shared some tips with them that I've been applying for years and I'll share some of them with you as well.
If you're traveling with a dog, flying should be avoided if at all possible. Airlines have different policies regarding pets, but the main point to keep in mind is that dogs hate to fly. A flight of any length is likely to be traumatic for your pet, especially if it has to fly in cargo. Smaller dogs may be allowed to sit with you in a carrying case, but this isn't exactly fun for them either. It's better to take a little extra time and drive. At least then the dog can get occasional breaks along the way.
If you're going to be driving a long distance, crating the dog is sometimes the best option. I don't like to do this, as it feels like we're locking our dog up in a little prison. However, many pet experts say that this is the best way to keep the dog feeling secure. It's also safer than having a dog jumping all over the car. Remember, it's only for a limited period of time. When I do crate our dog, I make sure to give her plenty of exercise beforehand.
On some vacations, we go out on boats and like to take our dog along. When we do this, we always put a flotation vest on our dog. This is an essential safety tip to keep in mind if you ever bring your dog near water. Even dogs that can swim can get into trouble if they fall into the water. They could get tired or pulled into a strong current. Make sure you bring a flotation vest for your dog if you're vacationing near water.
Before we take our dog on vacation, I make certain preparations. I always take her to the vet for a checkup. It's good to get a certified statement from the vet to confirm that the dog is healthy and has all the mandatory vaccinations. Before you travel, make sure you research any laws or restrictions involving animals. We've also micro chipped our dog, which is a procedure I recommend to all pet owners. This can be a lifesaver if your pet ever gets lost.
When we go on vacation, I try to maintain the same routine for our dog as I follow at home. In the heart of Chicago there are some great hotels for both families and dogs that will help you stay in that routine. While some things are going to be different, I can at least feed and walk her at the same time as usual. I also bring along some of her favorite foods and treats to make her feel at home.

Thursday, May 08, 2014

Crafting at Casa de Schwartz

I had these wonderful scraps of fabric, sent to me by The Makery, so it finally time to use them.  Soleil wanted an eye mask, because she always takes Mama's.  
(I would suggest using 2 pieces of thinner elastic, instead of the one thicker one that I used.)
 And I am addicted to making zipper pouches.  They ARE great for giving small gifts, and it is reusable wrapping!

This is the AFTER photo of the craft cabinet.  The BEFORE photo is on the last post.  It wasn't pretty...
Because all of the kid craft supplies were out, it was easy to make little "invitations" for Soleil all day.  She loves them, and I do as well, as it leads to a moment to read for me:) 
 grocery bag + construction paper crayons +markers
 big buttons+pony beads+pipe cleaners on a messy table
stencils+black cardstock+white crayon

Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Random Observations

Going here.  Soon.  
Soleil will do anything for a French Macaron.  Or (/mɑːkɑːrɔːn/ mah-kah-rōn;[1] French pronunciation: ​[makaˈʁɔ̃][2]) as the pretentious Hipster at our local cafe corrects me in saying...

Perhaps I should stop buying my 3 year old daughter shoes.

Why I hate going to the commissary.  The bread aisle looked even more bare.

Returning home, and dreading leaving it when we move.

Easy meal for Cinco de Mayo.  Throw whole chicken in crock pot+italian season+chicken broth+onions.  Shred, add taco sauce at end or leave plain, like my kids like it.   Oh, and don't think I made the Spanish rice... I made the Trader Joe's frozen, microwave brown rice and then heated up rotel, and added it in, cooking until heated through.  (It was pretty good.)

Selling this.  I want a Cameo because it fits my lifestyle better.

Cleaning Craft Cabinet.  (I never have need to walk into a Michaels/Joann's again.  But I will.)