In Loving Memory of Roxy McQueen

I first met Roxy on April 8, 2010. I had lost my sweet Cruella just a month earlier and did not feel ready to add a new member to my family just yet, but I knew that my other dog, Molly, was in need of a companion. I thought about it overnight, and I picked Roxy up the following day. I quickly grew to love her to the point that there’s nothing I wouldn’t have done to keep her happy and healthy.

Roxy was a beautiful Dalmatian/Hound mix with a heart of pure gold. Not a day went by that she wouldn’t walk up to me, lift her right paw, and lightly place it on my knee in an amazing show of affection. She could always bring a smile to my face!

I am saddened to say that Roxy went to the Rainbow Bridge on June 16, 2013. Every fiber of my being aches, and there is a huge hole in my heart. But despite the pain and tragedy of losing my beloved friend and family member, I remain thankful for the three beautiful years we shared.

Anotole France is quoted as saying, “Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.” I am blessed to have a soul that has been fully awakened, thanks to the unconditional love of Roxy, Cruella, and my three other wonderful dogs.

Rest in peace, sweet Roxy. We will meet again at the Rainbow Bridge.

I’ve Been Vegucated!

December 4, 2012 started like any other Tuesday.  As I made the trek from Knoxville to Jefferson City, I had no idea that a major lifestyle change would begin that day.

As I sang along to the country tunes blaring from my radio, I glanced to my right and saw an 18-wheeler packed from front to back and top to bottom with live chickens – hundreds if not thousands of them!  The chickens were crammed into small wire cages and were exposed to freezing temperatures.  The truck had a Koch Foods logo on the side, so it was evident that these chickens were on their way to be massacred.  I have been an animal lover my entire life, and an avid supporter of animal welfare organizations for many years, but I was now facing the harsh reality that I was a hypocrite.  My mind turned to my many visits to Chick-Fil-A, and my eyes filled with tears as I watched those chickens being carried to their deaths.  I made the decision to become a vegetarian at that very moment.

The first month was a bit of a struggle, and I relapsed a couple of times.  Then I watched a documentary called “Vegucated”.  The documentary promoted a vegan lifestyle, which I had never before considered.  I had no idea that dairy cows and chickens faced such horrid conditions.  By the end of that movie, I had made the decision to go a step further in my vegetarian lifestyle.  I am happy to say that I am now a vegan.  I choose not to eat meat, eggs, or dairy products.

The transition to veganism was extremely challenging.  Eggs and milk are hidden in so many products!  I have given up restaurant dining in favor of making my own meals at home where I am in full control of what I eat.  I have begun shopping at health food stores that have a large selection of vegan friendly products.  I have discovered that the healthier you eat, the more expensive it is.  Perhaps this is the reason for America’s obesity epidemic.

In complete honesty, I must disclose that there is one non-vegan food that has yet to be removed from my diet.  From time to time, I eat a Morningstar Farms veggie corn dog.  I have yet to find a suitable vegan alternative for this product, so I may need to develop my own recipe.

I tried vegetarianism for six months a few years ago, but I gave up when my body began to suffer from vitamin deficiencies.  This time around I’m doing my homework.  I’ve been reading books about nutrition, and I’ve found an excellent vegan multivitamin.  I also just ordered some MarzSprays nutritional supplements.  I’ve always had difficulty swallowing pills, so it’s great to have some spray options available!

I’ve been living this new lifestyle for a few months now, and it feels great.  Thoughts of meat, dairy, and eggs now make me nauseous, so I’m not even tempted.  And the best part of all is that I have managed to align my lifestyle with my beliefs.

Statistics show that a vegetarian saves approximately 95 lives per year.  I hope that I live long enough to redeem myself for all those chickens aboard the Koch Foods truck that fateful day.  You may think they gave their lives for our indulgence.  But I know they gave their lives to change mine, and to save so many others.  Their sacrifice will not be in vain.

My Letter to Santa Claus

Dear Santa,

It has been nearly three years since Miss Cruella was taken from me, and memories of her still occupy my mind.  From the day I rescued her from homelessness, to our many games of hide and seek.  From the peppermint candies she always managed to steal, to the way she protected me from harm.  From her warm greetings at the door, to the day I was forced to say goodbye.  Miss Cruella was far more than a dog.  She was an angel – a beautiful angel that God called back to Heaven far too soon.

Santa, my wish this Christmas season is for one more visit with Cruella.  I want to hug her, hold her, and tell her how much she is loved and missed.  I want to introduce her to her new siblings, and reunite her with the sister she knew and loved.  I want to show her the painting I had made of her, and tell her about the other animals I have been able to help in her memory.  Most of all, I want to send her home with enough love to last until we meet again.



Cruella in Heaven
“Cruella in Heaven” by Anne Zoutsos

Introducing Dani

Meet the newest addition to my family, Dani. When I first saw her photo on PetFinder, I just knew that she belonged with me. On July 14, 2012, I made the four hour trip to Elliston, Virginia and adopted her from the Dalmatian Rescue of Southwest Virginia.

Dani is approximately one year old and weighs in at a whopping 34 pounds. She is deaf in her left ear but can hear just fine with her right. If you look closely at her photo, you’ll see that she has one brown eye and one blue eye. Dani had a rough start in life. Though I don’t know much about her history, I do know that was pulled from a shelter in Ohio on the day she was to be euthanized. She lived in West Virginia briefly and was then turned over to the rescue group in Virginia. She is now living in Tennessee and loving it!

Molly and Roxy accepted Dani into the pack pretty quickly, but Bosley had a hard time. Having been the baby before she came along, he was reluctant to give up his role. It took him a while, but he has finally accepted Dani too.

As I’m sure most of you know, I have a special place in my heart for all dogs, but especially Dalmatians. Ever since Cruella came into my life in 2002, I have been in love with the breed. Cruella was the canine love of my life. Sadly, I lost her to a sudden cardiac issue in 2010, but I will carry her in my heart always.

I am thankful to have been able to take Dani in and give her a good home. Molly, Roxy, Bosley, and I are enjoying our time with her!

De-Stressing my Life with Online Coupons

I’ve always had more than my fair share of stress. In fact, I perform quite well under stress in my professional life. My personal life, however, is a very different story. When the stress level runs high, you’d be well advised to steer clear of me!

Over the past few years, I have worked hard to reduce the amount of stress in my life. I cut ties with overly needy friends. I eliminated unnecessary expenses. I paid off my debt. I started shopping online in order to avoid the crowded shopping malls. And my online shopping further reduced my financial stress when I discovered online coupon codes. Who would have imagined that you could save so much money just by entering a special code at checkout?

My latest coupon code discovery is DealTaker partners with more than 2,500 merchants to bring its members thousands of exclusive coupons for their favorite stores. Looking for a Gap coupon code? No problem! Want to buy flowers, candy, or jewelry for your lady? 1-800-Flowers, Nirvana Chocolates, and Zales are just a few of DealTaker’s affiliate partners that can help bring some romance to your next date. Perhaps you’re looking for a printable grocery coupon to take to your local supermarket. DealTaker can even help with that! Don’t have two dimes to rub together? That’s okay too, because DealTaker even has a section for free stuff!

DealTaker has more than 287,000 members, and membership is completely free. Though you don’t have to become a member in order to access the thousands of discounts available there, membership does allow you to communicate with other members through forums.

I love to shop for my dogs, so I am particularly interested in coupons for Doctors Foster and Smith, 1-800-PetMeds, and PetSmart. And being the avid reader that I am, I can’t resist checking out the Books-A-Million coupons! Whether your motivation is stress reduction or just stretching your dollars, I have no doubt that you’ll find what you’re looking for at too!

Introducing Bosley

Meet Bosley, the newest member of my family. I adopted him just over a week ago.

I’ve had my eye on Bosley for months. He had been living with Molly and Roxy’s veterinarian since his owner passed away last year. As adorable as he is, you’d think it would have been easy to place him with a new owner, but don’t let this fella’s good looks fool ya. He greets everyone with angry growls, bared teeth, and the occasional bite to the ankle. I’m always up for a challenge, and I have yet to meet a dog I don’t like, so I took Bosley home.

Dr. Maples told me that Bosley is a very loving dog once he learns to trust you, and she suspected that after a few weeks or months, he’d be quite fond of me. I took him home last Friday evening, and less than 24 hours later, he was sitting in my lap while I watched TV, sleeping next to me in bed, and letting me carry him around! Since that time, he has grown very attached to me. In fact, he is sleeping in my lap as I type this post! He is such a loving little boy!

Bosley is getting along quite well with Molly and Roxy too, and for that, I’m very thankful. The three of them act as if they’ve known each other for years!

We are now faced with a new challenge. Bosley dislikes men with a passion. If he sees one from a distance, the growls start, and they get much worse as the man moves closer. Frank has his work cut out for him. As if being my boyfriend isn’t difficult enough, he now has to figure out how to befriend a bloodthirsty wolverine! Say a few prayers for Frankie!

Selecting the Right Fashion Jewelry Accessories

Suppose you have an outfit that is in need of completion but you lack the right premiere jewelry to supplement it with. This is a situation that every woman comes across at some point in her life because fashion jewelry accessories grow outdated and boring after they have been worn enough. The result of such a situation is for the woman to seek and buy more current premiere jewelry. Here is how to select the right pieces.

  • 1. Categorize: Premiere jewelry accessories, regardless of what type they are, need to be matched with the clothes that you have. This is why it is important that you categorize and organize your clothes in a proper manner. Once organized, you will find it much easier to pick fashion jewelry accessories for each individual piece or combinations.

  • 2. Accessories: Unless you are overhauling your whole existing fashion jewelry collection, you will also need to organize them in a proper manner. This will allow you to spot gaps in your collection and particularly go about filling them. You can try to color coordinate everything if you wish to become more detailed.

  • 3. Size: When you are actually going through the various types of premiere jewelry, you should pay attention to their sizes. Just looking at photographs is not enough because scale can get lost in 2D images. Hence, you should always keep an eye on the size of potential purchases.

  • 4. Design: Sometimes, the design theme of the premiere jewelry piece can also create a match problem with certain clothes. For example, you will find it difficult to match contemporary designs with traditional dresses and vice versa. This can end up being a major problem because many women come across problems of not having something to wear for a special evening soiree because they own too many casual pieces or not having something for a picnic because everything they have is traditional.

    Shopping for fashion jewelry accessories can be a very enlightening and enjoyable experience, but if you make the wrong purchase then everything can go sour in a minute. Hence, while you must not forget to have fun, you must also remember to make the right purchase with the help of the above mentioned tips.

  • A Love Worth Waiting For

    I blog about a variety of topics here at The Kat House, but there has always been one that stands out above the rest – my ongoing search for true love. Though my romantic history is scattered with negative experiences and failed relationships, I keep moving forward and looking for my soul mate. Some say that I’m too romantic, too dreamy, and that I’m looking for something that doesn’t exist. But I believe in love. I believe that I deserve it in my life. I believe that I should both give and receive of it.

    I will be the first to say that I’m not an easy person to love. I am incredibly independent and somewhat set in my ways. Past experiences have caused me to question the motives of most men and to hesitate in trusting them. I require more patience than the average woman, and I’ve found that patience is a rare commodity among the male population. I’ve always been honest about this need upfront, but that hasn’t changed the ending to the story. The guy says “I am more patient than anyone you have ever met!” and then he dumps me two weeks later because things weren’t progressing as quickly as he would have liked. The result has been a long string of dates with very few actual relationships thrown into the mix.

    That being said, I’ve also been the one to bring the brakes to a screeching halt on a few occasions. When I get scared or feel pressured, it’s my natural reaction. When I notice undesirable qualities in the guy, or when it doesn’t appear that he and I are a good match, I let him go. I’m looking for something serious and long term. If it’s not headed in that direction, I’m just wasting my time – and his!

    I may be a dreamer, but I am also realistic enough to know that there is no such thing as a perfect man. However, there is one out there who is perfect for me! And I won’t stop looking until I find him.

    First and foremost, he is a Christian. He is romantic, loyal, caring, and generous. He loves animals and understands the bond that I have with my own pets. He is patient, understanding, and knows that the type of relationship we both desire will not occur overnight. He is in it for the long haul and won’t bail on me when the going gets tough. He loves horror movies and ghost shows, and he is willing to stay up late watching them with me. He is supportive and motivates me to do and be the best that I possibly can. He’s a working man, ambitious in his field, and he can carry on an intelligent conversation when the situation calls for it. He’d rather go out for pizza than to a four star restaurant. And he has a great sense of humor!

    I am a hopeless romantic. I want nothing more than to find “the one” that God intended for me. The one who will love me, trust me, and be forever devoted to me. I want my heart to be overflowing with love for him. I want to hold him, comfort him, trust him, and cherish him. I want to fall in love with him every day for the rest of my life.

    And so, I wait. A love like that is worth waiting for.

    In Loving Memory of Rick Pietschman

    I met Rick Pietschman in 1997. He was the Controller for a national discount book store chain when I was hired into the accounting department. Though he was technically my boss, we became fast friends. I have so many fond memories of him.

    I was obsessed with beanie babies back in those days. I’m not sure how I managed to get Rick to jump on the bandwagon with me, but he did. We would sometimes become privy to inside information about a new shipment of beanies, and we’d rush out during our lunch hour to see what we could score. Whereas I just thought beanies were cute and cuddly, Rick was convinced that they would one day make him rich!

    Then there were the jokes. Rick got loads of them in his AOL inbox, and he would often share them with me. I still remember his laughter as he told me a not so clean joke about a guy who had taken a trip to Jamaica. The punch line was, “Welcome to Jamaica. Have a nice day!” I have to admit that the joke was hilarious, but Rick’s laughter made it all the better. We laughed so hard that day. The next day when I got to work, I found a slip of paper resting on my keyboard. It said simply, “Welcome to Jamaica. Have a nice day!”

    In 1998, I was involved in a car accident on the way to work one morning. Though I wasn’t injured, I was incredibly upset and couldn’t stop crying. I called Rick to tell him what had happened and that I’d be late for work. Within minutes, he was at my side. I’m not sure if I ever told him how much that meant to me, but I have never forgotten it, and I never will.

    The following year, I had the opportunity to be there for Rick. For some time, he had been treated unfairly by upper management. And when they terminated his employment one morning, I followed him out the door. Without a moment’s hesitation, I left my job behind. I still remember how incredibly touched he was at my show of friendship and loyalty.

    I started a new job a few days later, and Rick moved back to his home state of Florida. We kept in touch by phone and email over the next six years. He often talked of moving back to Tennessee, but never found a suitable job here. The last conversation I had with him was in 2005. I wish I could remember more about it, but I remember only a few things. He was planning a visit to Tennessee and wanted to see me. And when I mentioned that I didn’t know if I’d recognize him, he said that he “still looked the same, but his waistline was bigger.” And then there was the laughter that Rick was so well known for. I will never forget that laugh.

    For the past five years, Rick’s whereabouts have been a mystery to me. His phone was disconnected. My emails went unanswered. My Google searches were fruitless. I couldn’t even locate him on MySpace or Facebook. Until a couple of weeks ago. I did another Google search and came across a newspaper article that confirmed my worst fears. Rick was killed in a motorcycle accident in 2005.

    Rick Pietschman didn’t get rich from his beanie baby investment, but he certainly enriched the lives of all those around him. He didn’t travel to Jamaica, at least not that I know of, but his laugh brought about many nice days. And today, as I mourn this incredible loss, it is my hope that Rick is resting peacefully with our Lord, and that he is aware of just how many lives he touched during his 49 years on this earth.

    Goodbye, my friend. You were, are, and will always be, one of the closest friends I have ever known. I will love you always.

    Because I Have Loved, I Have Lived…

    Yesterday marked the seven month anniversary of Cruella’s death, and there is still a huge hole in my heart. If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you know just how important she was to me – and how important she always will be.

    I’ve always had a difficult time forging friendships that last. If you were to look back over the years, my set of friends has changed as frequently as some people replace their toothbrushes. Boyfriends have been few and far between, and they have only stuck around for a few months at best. Months and even years have passed between visits with my own family members. My dogs have been the only constant. And though I love Molly and Roxy very much, no one will ever be able to hold a candle to Miss Cruella. She was my “heart dog” – the greatest blessing I have ever known. And though I always loved her with my whole heart, our bond became so much stronger during the last three years of her life. She developed several very serious health conditions that required a lot of care. And like any good parent, I did everything that I possibly could for her – until the moment she took her last breath. I always knew the day would come, but it came way too soon. Eight years with her was just not enough.

    I have never known such love, companionship, and loyalty as that which Cruella showed me during our time together. And though the pain of losing her has been immense, I would endure it all again just to be able to see her one more time. The joy of having her in my life far outweighed the tragedy of losing her.

    It is with tear stained eyes that I recount my fondest memories of her. She was always at my side. Even when I took a bath, she patiently waited by the tub. And on the occasions that I’d fall asleep while soaking, I would awaken to a lick on the nose. There were the many games of hide and seek. It was hard to control my laughter as I listened to her run from room to room searching for me. She was so persistent, never giving up until she had finally found me! Miss Cruella was something else!

    I have often prayed that God would take away the pain of losing my best friend. But upon careful consideration, that’s not really what I want at all. I now realize that I have felt pain because I have loved. And because I have loved, I have lived.

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