Ooops – Sorry for the Fake-Out Post! But Sine I Have Your Attention…..

I’m sorry for the fake-out post entitled, “A Note From the Designated Cat Dad – or – DCD”.  That was actually intended for a new site on which we are working, Kitty Icky Poo. But since so much of the new site will involve user input and content, I guess now is as good a time as any to call for it!

As said on the site itself,

The idea behind Kitty Icky Poo is to share real stories and pictures of your litterbox set-up. Not just the products that you use, but your own personal set-ups. Did you come up with a great way to prevent scattered litter? Do you have a method of storing your scoop supplies that works well? Any tips/tricks to making litterbox management easier? We want to hear about it! Any pictures you have can be added to our gallery (on which we are working). We would also love product reviews. Please submit all stories, tips and tricks, and pictures to:

So if you are a kitty-lover, or know one, we’d love to hear from you!


6 Things Your Guy Wants You to Wear (or Not)

So I asked CAH for five trends in women’s beauty that, from a guy’s perspective, he wishes would die (among them: oversized sunglasses, skinny jeans and floral print). However, he was much more keen to tell me things he loves on a woman. So here it is, a dude’s perspective on what we should (or shouldn’t) wear, courtesy of CAH:

(P.S. This is CAH’s professional picture for his firm. It kills me every time I look at it. What a ham.)

  1. Nothing. (He wasted no time on that one) CAH says, “The best thing a woman can wear is her natural self”
  2. Dangling earrings. CAH says, “It says you have both class and taste”
  3. Perfume. CAH says, “It’s unseen. But wear something subtle and not too sweet – somewhere between what my little cousin would wear and what my grandma would wear”
  4. A nice handbag. CAH says, “I like a unique handbag over a name brand handbag. Stop being materialistic.” His favorite picks? The mesh bags from Whiting & Davis that I tend to favor, and he thinks the concept behind Miche handbags are the coolest thing around.
  5. Subtle, but powerful makeup. CAH says, “Stop caking it on and having it look like you’re a clown. Add it where you need it, not where you want it. If your eyes pop, let them pop. If your lips don’t, then maybe help them out” (That was profoundly more insightful than I would have ever gave him credit for)
  6. Natural boobs. CAH says, “We are over Baywatch and no matter how good your doctor is at making them natural, we will find out. We are guys, when we are with a chick we love boobs no matter what. When we are with other guys we may talk about big boobs, but by ourselves, we’ll take anything.”

Guest Blogger: So What Does “Sustainable Palm Oil” Really Mean?

Today’s guest poster is a fellow animal advocate, Annamarie, and someone who I have known in the industry for quite some time. Recently she raised some interesting points about this so-called “Sustainable Palm Oil”, and I asked her to put her thoughts to written word because I thought they were good points! She was gracious enough to do so for me:

I realized, today, that I really don’t know much about palm oil. I don’t feel very comfortable acknowledging that, because it is an incredibly important issue, and I really SHOULD know about it. When it comes to issues impacting unique, critically endangered wildlife, this is a biggie. Palm oil production threatens to wipe certain species from the Earth, while causing unspeakable suffering to individuals of these species, with orangutans being the “poster child” of palm plantation imposed suffering. Have you seen that Greenpeace ad where the guy is unwrapping a Kit Kat bar, and looks inside and finds an orangutan finger? Nestle went ballistic over this ad and had it removed from YouTube — after all, being called an orangutan killer is less than flattering. But are they? And how does palm oil kill orangutans, anyway? And what about “sustainable” palm oil? We can eat that, right?

And please note — palm oil is in just about EVERYTHING, even when you don’t know it. I say this to let you know that we are talking about astronomical volumes — not something that can easily be satisfied by a couple of small, non-invasive plantations. One tactic used in labeling is to simply call palm oil something else. Many of the ingredients that we commonly see, and don’t know what they really are, are palm oil, or CAN be made from palm oil, such as stearic acid, oleic acid, or just plain “vegetable oil”. Here is a more complete list: In Australia, recent legislation has required the labeling of palm oil in all food products (“Truth in Labeling” act). Environmental groups have responded extremely favorably to this, but not everyone is pleased. Malaysia, which provides 39% of the world’s palm oil, is up in arms, claiming that Australia is “pandering to a green worldview”. It claims that it is well aware of its need to preserve rainforest, and suggests that it is “doing the right things“. But is it? Do you believe our own USDA when it claims to guarantee “humane slaughter” or certifies the latest Monsanto product as safe? As with anything, I follow the money trail, and am extremely skeptical if it is more cost-efficient (even short-term) to do the wrong thing. (Disclaimer: I have not researched Malaysia’s conservation laws nor the enforcement thereof).

Information on how palm oil production threatens ecosystems is readily available. In a nutshell, palm oil producing trees grow best in areas covered with tropical rainforests. Rainforests are razed to make room for palm plantations; numerous species, including the orangutan, lose their habitat. In the case of the orangutan, many are shot on site — sometimes at the urging of a bounty — and babies are kidnapped and sold into the illegal wildlife trade. Starving animals may wander into villages in search of food; documented cases of villagers beating — sometimes to death — hungry orangutans, have occurred.

So what about “sustainable” palm oil — is it the real thing, or is it just greenwashing, designed to remove guilt and keep us buying product? And is it one of those things that stipulates that compliance will be required at a future date, but meanwhile — whoopsie — we might still be killing a few orangutans? And what about people who say boycotting is the wrong answer because, when done correctly, palm oil IS a fairly “green” crop, and the economies of certain countries depend on it?

Several big brands have jumped on the “sustainable” palm oil bandwagon. Girl Scouts of America comes to mind quickly — its famous cookies have long used palm oil, and the organization recently came under fire for this. Rather than face the ire of angry environmentalists, it claimed to move to “sustainable” palm oil. The Girl Scouts case was high profile, but it is by no means alone — countless big-name companies, including General Mills and Earth Balance, have been guilty of using environmentally destructive palm oil suppliers. Of course, there are some companies which simply don’t give a rat’s ass one way or the other. U.S. ag / food giant Cargill has flatly refused to cut ties with an Indonesian palm oil supplier (Sinar Mas) which has admitted illegally clearing forest. Cargill evidently justifies its relationship by stating that it is encouraged by Sinar Mas’ commitment to “taking corrective actions and strengthening its standard operating procedures”. Load of BS, anyone? Even Nestle and Burger King have severed relationships with this supplier.

So IS “sustainable” the real deal? Certainly, many pro-conservation organizations, have been pushing it, including WWF and many American zoos. To be honest, I’m really not sure, but clearly, there are troubling allegations (and that is why I keep using the word “sustainable” in quotes, BTW). RSPS (Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil) is a body of stakeholders including palm oil producers, processors, traders, retailers, banks and NGOs working to “promote the growth, production, distribution and use of sustainable palm oil”. It is affiliation with this organization that allows manufacturers to use the “sustainable” label. However, as this article points out (and please — if you only click one link on this entire page, make it this one), there is a BIG difference between RSPO certification and RSPO membership, and even certification (the more stringent of the two categories) may be of dubious value. Girl Scouts of America and Nestle, to name a couple, are members only. And, even more troubling, RSPO producing members have been caught red handed engaging in destructive practices. For example, Sinar Mas, the aforementioned supplier with whom Cargill refuses to cut ties, has contributed to “the opening up of deep peatland, deforestation of orangutan habitat, and occurrences of fire hot spots”, per an independent audit. While RSPO may be the best thing we have, it appears that, thus far, there is NO guarantee that products labeled “sustainable” contain only (or any) sustainably grown palm oil.

In the “comments” section, at the end of this article, someone asks how we truly know if ingredients were obtained responsibly, and what we should do. The author, Ashley Shaeffer, says “…as far as brands using sustainable palm oil, we don’t advocate for any of them although there are some women cooperatives in West Africa running responsible small-scale operations. The majority of palm oil comes from unsustainable industrial scale palm plantations in Indonesia and Malaysia. Until there is truly 100% “certified sustainable” palm oil that we can trace back to the plantation of origin available on the market, I generally try to avoid it”. This sounds like good advice to me, based on what I’ve discovered in attempting to research write this article. For now, I will arm myself with a palm oil ingredient identification list, and try to keep my finger on the pulse well enough to know if / when we actually come to the point where we can definitively prove that 100% of the palm oil we are using is truly sustainable.

PMS and PMDD May Last Longer Than Experts Thought

I almost leapt out of my seat today when I read the headlines from, “Severe PMS May Last Longer Than Thought.” The article goes on to say that researchers found out that severe PMS symptoms, or PMDD symptoms, can last up to 3 days into menstruation! Anyone who has severe PMS or PMDD could already tell you that, but I am so glad that the medical community has finally recognized it!

When I first started my journey with PMDD I was, like many PMDD-sufferers, misdiagnosed as being bipolar. When I finally went to my gynecologist for the severe cramping that I was experiencing with my periods, we began chatting further about other symptoms. I mentioned I was diagnosed as bipolar, and she asked me to start charting my mood “highs” and “lows”. Lo and behold, these ups and downs that my psychiatrist was calling “manic behavior related to bipolar” were occurring the same time *each* month. With the lows, of course, being right before my period. My gynecologist told me that I had PMDD and I happily stopped the 5 anti-psychotic, anti-anxiety, depression and sleeping pills that my psychiatrist had me on. Five years and no prescription drugs later, I am happily managing my PMDD naturally.

Convincing my general physician of this new diagnosis was a totally different story. I explained everything from my gynecologist, but she was still adamant that I was bipolar. I explained how the gynecologist said that this was a common misdiagnosis and went on to tell her about the similarities of the symptoms. She asked me how long into my period the symptoms lasted and I told her a few days after my period started. With this she exclaimed, “Well then it can’t be period-related, period-related symptoms stop the first day that your period starts!”

I remember at the time I was appalled at this assertion. It seemed to me that this was a gross generalization, and said with such certainty. Logic told me that this could be an absolute for every woman, everywhere, ever. That just does not make sense. Further, now that I was aware of my body’s schedule, I knew it was period-related.

This article is a huge vindication for those afflicted with PMDD. It is also a stark reminder to follow your gut, know your body and to question *everything* you are told by the medical community. They may be great for a lot of things, but ultimately, this is your health and you know your body better than anyone. Don’t let a doctor with a narrow view of medicine and healing dictate how you manage it.

5 Things Every New Husband Should Know

Do you have any friends who tend to be more materialistic than you? I have a couple. It hasn’t bothered me so much, but it did recently when one made a comment to CAH that I did not appreciate. It did, however, inspire me with things that I think every new husband should know.

When CAH was in grad school, not working, he did not have a lot of money. For Christmas he taught himself to make wire-wrapped jewelry and made me a bunch of jewelry. The jewelry was gorgeous, but more than that, it was overwhelmingly touching. He told me that, someday when he is working, it will be “real” jewelry. But honestly, nothing he ever buys me will be as valuable as that homemade jewelry. It means the world to me.

Flash forward to a few months ago and me, a friend and CAH were in the car. We passed a jewelry store that her husband frequents, which she pointed out before informing CAH that, now that he had a job, homemade jewelry wasn’t going to cut it. After I picked my jaw up off the floor, I quickly told CAH that this was NOT true. I did NOT want my husband’s sweet mind indoctrinated by the “Mantra of Materialism.” It takes much more to make jewelry than it does to plunk a credit card down on a jewelry counter.

Part of being newlyweds has been observing the marriages of our friends. This is what I have observed from my friends who have difficult marriages: they do not acknowledge the good about their partner, and instead focus on the bad. And more specifically, they fail to acknowledge, *and show gratitude for*, the role that the other plays in the relationship. This has particularly struck me with my husband as I see him work towards becoming the husband that I know he wants to be.

My husband has had a hectic year: he graduated from grad school, lived financially independent from his family for the first time since being in school, got a new wife, moved us to San Francisco for a new job and became head of the household. Talk about stressful! What I’ve learned to understand and respect is that he has his own standards of who he wants to be in this marriage, independent of what I think, and that it is important that he achieves those standards. And that makes me love him even more.

My husband has been tasked with managing the finances. I asked that he take this role in the marriage because I am terrible with money, and fully acknowledge that it is my weakness. At the same time, he hates telling me “no” if I want to buy something, and also feels like he is failing to provide for me. This is why that comment from my friend particularly struck me. I do not want my husband to feel stressed out all of the time because he feels like he needs to live up to these impossible materialistic demands from his wife. So it got me thinking about it, and I realized that this is probably not uncommon for other newlyweds. As I started thinking of all the things I wish I could drill into his head, I figured it was something that many new wives (and maybe even old) wish they could drill into their husband’s heads. So here it is:

  1. Part of being a good financial provider is learning to say “no”. Just because you cannot buy your wife all of her heart’s desires, does not mean that you are not a good provider. Making smart financial decisions that benefits the family is what makes you a good financial provider.
  2. Showing us how much you love us goes way beyond diamonds. As many of you have seen with CAH’s “Love Notes” campaign, there are so many wonderful ways to say “I love you” that are better than what little children in some far off country have died to obtain. And trust me, women who are worth a lick will melt over sweet gestures more than jewelry. The rest we call “Plaintiffs”, and they will perpetually be miserable because they’ll never find true happiness.
  3. Remember, *you’re* who we fell in love with. While we always want you to strive to transform and grow in your life, it is you who we fell in love with – as you are now. You will get promotions, make more money and buy fun toys. But we love *you*, and ultimately, the other stuff does not matter.
  4. As long as you are trying your hardest, you are not going to let us down. We may get disappointed at circumstances, just like you, but seeing you try your hardest to be all you can be in life and the marriage, shows us how much you love us (see number 2). And we will admire your always striving and trying. Truly.
  5. Never stop making us laugh. Because your ability to make us laugh is the most bankable currency you’ll ever have.

And ladies remember, these go both ways 😉