Ask Away Blog: October 2017

Tips for Keeping Your Pet Rat Happy

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

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Before you cringe and freak out, remember, don't believe the stuff you hear. Rats are amazing pets!   Ever since I was a teenager I've owned at least one rat at a time as a pet.  I love them so much because they remind me of dogs - they are smart, can be trained, and love interacting with humans.

It's so funny because people are quick to assume rats are dirty and icky but that's actually far from the truth. Domesticated rats are obsessively clean critters. In fact after a few minutes of handling Charlotte, she stops and cleans herself.  She has an organized cage where she stores food far away from where she uses the potty.

Rats are just so sweet and intelligent and for those of you that are planning to add a rat to your home, here are some great tips to help keep them happy!

Toys are Crucial
Toys help rats explore, embrace their instincts, and gives them something to do so they don't get bored. Rats can actually have failing health if they are bored, neglected, and lonely so the least you can do when you're not handling them is give them something fun. Charlotte loves her Lava Ledge from Chewy. It's basically a pumice rock and it's great for a variety of critters and attaches easily to the inside of their cage.  It has pet safe coloring, and  it allows rats to chew and keep their teeth filed down.   Charlotte uses hers daily! She also climbs all over it.

There are also wooden chews you can give rats, bells, crinkle toys, and when you let them out to play many a rat has become a fan of small stuffed animals and balls. I had a rat that used to roll a ball at me when I rolled it towards him. See, I told you they were smart!

Human Interaction is A Must
Rats LOVE interacting not only with other rats but with humans. They are naturally social creatures.  Start them young so they get used to handling.  I hold Charlotte at least once a day for 5-10 minutes and up to an hour on the days that I'm not super  busy.  She's perfectly content crawling up my arms and then sitting on my lap while I watch TV.

I always tell people that rats are great pets for kids because they don't get nippy.  Rabbits, hamsters, guinea pigs, gerbils, and mice are actually not big fans of being handled and they can get uncomfortable and bitey.  A regularly handled rat is ecstatic to get some human attention.

Proper Nutrition and Hydration = Happiness
Just like any animal, rats need proper nutrition.  A quality pellet food will suffice and use nuts/berries as treats.  A food that is nothing but seeds and berries is actually comparable to a person eating junk food.  Also, always have fresh water in a water bottle available to your ratty.

I use treats as a reward after Charlotte has good behavior like when I hold her and she doesn't bite me, I make sure she gets a yogurt drop when I put her back in the cage.

Clean their Cage Once A Month
Rats are very low maintenance and a once a month cage cleaning is all it usually takes for Charlotte. I just have James hold her while I dump her old bedding into a garbage bag and then fill her cage with new fresh bedding. 

So as you can see, it's really not that hard to make a pet rat happy.  That's just another reason they make such great pets!

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Happy Halloween from My Wolfpack

Happy Halloween from...
 Rocky the Lumberjack

Pixie the Lion

Stella the little Mexican Chihuahua

Grace the Football player

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Books I Recommend Your Read [October]

Monday, October 30, 2017

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A Map for Wrecked Girls by Jessica Taylor
This was such a fun read.  It was full of emotion about two sisters and a guy named Alex that get stranded on an island after their boat explodes.  Determined to get home despite the drama waiting for them, the two sisters have to come to terms with what has happened in the past and one of the sisters is head over heels for Alex.

Reluctant Hero by Michael Benfante

This is a book about Michael Benfante who survived the World Trade Center attacks and carried a woman to safety.  But this isn't just about that day. It's how his life fell apart in the years after and how he rebuilt. Great read.

City of Refuge by Tom Piazza

This was a great fiction read based on Hurricane Katrina and how it affected the different people of New Orleans.  It is amazing how the author shows the different ways in which it traumatizes people and causes them to rebuild.
This Is Where We Live by Janelle Brown
I love Janelle Brown and she's done it again, weaving together a story of financial hardship and a rocky marriage between Claudia and Jeremy.  I felt totally emotional along with the characters the entire way through the book wondering if they were going to make it or not. You'll have to see for yourself!

The Best Kind of People by Zoe Whittall
This was a completely realistic fictional story about a family that is rocked by a scandal.  It details how the community reacts and how the scandal with the dad (and students) affects each family member.  It's tragic but stuff starts to turn around in odd ways.  I loved this book and really felt like I was standing there in person watching it all unfold.

The Light We Lost by Jill Santopolo
Oh my God I don't think I can properly put into words how amazing this book is. You will have to experience it for yourself.  Basically it's about Gabe and Lucy who meet on September 11th at school.   Then they date for a while and have a very heated relationship.  They go their separate ways but over the years they continue to reconnect and cross each other's paths.  Lucy tries to move on in her life and settles for a new man and eventually has children to him.  She still stays in contact (even secretly) with Gabe.  One day, she gets a phone call that changes everything.   You CAN NOT GUESS the ending to this book. AMAZING.  I felt so many emotions during this story.  For sure one of my favorite books.

The Hot One by Carolyn Murnick
This is an AMAZING memoir that I could really relate with.  Carolyn and Ashley are best friends as children and they go down two different paths as they grow older.  At age 22, Ashley is brutally murdered and Carolyn sets off on a mission over the next 10 years to figure out what happened to her friend that led her to a horrific fate. I lost my best friend at age 22 to different circumstances but a lot of how Carolyn copes and what she thinks and feels (as unique as it is) was very similar to me. A must read FOR SURE!

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How To Have A Perfectly Simple Night In

Thursday, October 26, 2017

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Now that we are a married couple we are boring. Just kidding! We have always been boring. No, I'm really just kidding. We aren't boring at all we are just simple and laid back and we like to stay in and relax most nights.   That doesn't mean it's boring because trust me we definitely have fun.  So today I figured I'd put together a post on how to have a perfectly simple night in and really enjoy it.

Choose An Activity
You may not have a ton of choices but I normally choose between a game night or a movie.  Pick your activity and clear your schedules. Let friends know that you aren't available that night!

Limit Phone Usage
If you really want to enjoy a night in, get rid of distractions! That means put away your laptop and tablet and mute your phones!  I actually put mine in the bedroom on the charger so I can't even check it.

Get Your Drink of Choice
Whether it's beer, mocktails, or wine, make sure you stock up on whatever you'd like to indulge in. For me, it's a simple glass of wine and for James it's a simple bottle or 2 of beer. 

Choose Delicious Foods
So this is my favorite part of the night. You can indulge in whatever you like but I love making my own little cheese and cracked board!

This part is so easy because really all you need are some good cheese and cracker options.

My favorite crackers these days are Jarlsberg Cheese Crisps! I like to make little cheese and cracker sandwiches but these are also so delicious to have on their own.  In fact they come in different delicious flavors. 

As for cheese, I love the Jarlsberg Cheese Snacks and the cheese block.   It has a nice nutty flavor and their cheeses are naturally lactose and gluten free which means James can definitely enjoy them!

And the best part is you can munch away without any judgement because it's you and your house.  And if your spouse is there they can do the same.

This is the perfect idea for staying in on super chilly nights or even once the winter hits and it snows.   

And if you are like me and you have 4 dogs - you want them out of your hair so make sure you keep them entertained. I always toss them a treat or two. Purina Pro Plan Tender Strips from Chewy  are perfect because they have a soft texture so it's easy on the tiny teeth my dogs have and they love the lamb flavor! When I want to give them a smaller amount I just tear the treat into bits but honestly, they will take their time consuming this if I give them the whole thing so it keeps them out of my hair! They are really easy for them to digest as well so I can enjoy my night in without having to worry about upset dog tummies!

How do you spend your evenings in?

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Scenes from Our Wedding

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

So as you all know, we got married on October 12th and had a reception on October 14th.   It was amazing.  I wanted to share some photos with you guys and I am also excited to post next month about how I managed to get married for under $2,500.

So for the ceremony these are just a few of many more photos to come.   It was an amazing time. The whole ceremony took not even 10 minutes, the judge was hilarious and awesome, and our parents were so glad to be there.   My dad even got to walk me down the aisle!

Now the reception was A LOT of work.  I did pretty much all of it by crafting stuff or shopping for great deals.  It took about 9 hours to set up and decorate the day before.

I can't wait to share with you how I did it all within my budget in a couple of weeks. So keep checking back!

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FabFitFun Fall Box Favorites Giveaway (Worth Over $160!)

Monday, October 23, 2017

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So hopefully you all remember my FabFitFun Fall Box post here.  If not, check it out and refresh yourselves so you know what you can win!   One lucky winner will get several goodies from the Fall box! 

Up for grabs are: 

IMM Living Coxet Wire Heart Ceramic Jewelry Holder - So this piece was named after a geometer who believed that music and geometry are linked.   Kinda cool, and it's a nice minimalistic piece to hold jewelry or just use as regular room d├ęcor! It's got a value of $33. 
Private Party Gym Bag - Not only is there an adorable phrase on this bag but I love the denim wash and the nice cotton handles.  The zipper compartment on the outside seals everything tightly inside and there's even an inner pocket to keep things safe.  It's got a value of $59.

Organic Carbon + Coconut Teeth Whitening Powder and Toothbrush - How cool!  A natural way to whiten teeth with the power of activated charcoal.  This is perfect for me since I adore wine and coffee but despise what it does to my teeth.  Average value $43.95.

Trestique Matte Color + Shiny Balm Lip Crayon - Lip crayons are a favorite of mine because it makes it so easy to apply color and I just love that it's a 2-in-1 product.  It has a value of $28!

Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Our Simple Fall Porch Decor + A Giveaway!

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

So unlike a lot of bloggers, I don't have a big front porch that's covered up from the elements and has tons of space to display decor. Of course I wasn't going to let that stop me from decorating for Fall. So here's a look at what I did this year.


I got a wreath this year since I never had one for Fall before and I decided on a bright fireburst of faux leaves. We have a flag hanger thingy (whatever it's called) that we don't use for a flag so I use it to hang wreaths. This wreath was from Jo-Ann Fabrics.

Of course it's time to embrace my favorite flower, the MUM!! I went out and bought plenty of mums of all different sizes to display on the porch and the walkway. The little decorative things sitting inside of the flowerpots were from Dollar General.

The walkway is also decorated with some signage I had from the last two years that I found at Dollar General. These are covered by a slight overhang so I don't need to worry about them getting wet unless it's raining sideways.


This is my favorite part of our front porch decor. The faux carved pumpkin I've had for years since I was a kid actually. My mom used to put it outside of our house. I set it on top of a hay bale I got at JoAnn Fabrics. Then I found these adorable faux gourds and pumpkins at Walmart and stacked those around it. I like faux more than the real thing because I feel so wasteful if I buy real ones, then let them rot away. Plus if any little brats try to smash pumpkins they won't have any luck making a mess with these!

So even if you have a small porch you can still embrace the season and decorate! 

Another thing we updated in our home recently was the number sign on the front of the house. Ramsign is a company that makes beautiful house number plates that can be customized to your liking.   We love the blue and how it pops in this Dansborg House Number plate. I love this site because they even send you a proof for your approval before making anything. 

I love the high quality craftsmanship and the vibrant colors, especially the blue we chose. You definitely can't beat the nice glossy look either. Ramsign products are handmade using a special stenciling technique from the late 19th century and they are fully weatherproof which  means they can be outside all year long and the sign won't rust nor will the colors fade.  Each sign comes with a lifetime warranty.  All of their signs are revivals of classic signs from the 1850 to early 1900's eras before they were replaced with tin and plastic signs in the 20th century.  Despite this historical factor, I  love that they have a nice modern look while still respecting the classic style.    

And guess what!! Ramsign is giving one lucky reader a $50 gift certificate to their site! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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