SPCA Christmas Bake Sale 2010: Done!

December 19, 2010

The 2010 SPCA Christmas Bake Sale is now history!  We held the charity event last Monday, and contributions are still coming in but the total amount raised so far is $3,265.  We’re short of our $4,000 goal, but considering all of the obstacles that confronted us this year, we’re pretty happy to have raised that amount!  We wanted to beat last year’s $4,023 total but we’re thankful for what we have.

Our conference room wasn’t available this year, so our management company allowed us to use an empty suite on the first floor.  We liked the accessibility of the ground floor space, but the large concrete-floored room presented an ambiance challenge.  We used lots of signs and color, and fabrics on our tables.  The focus was on the goodies available for purchase to benefit the animals anyway, not the interior design, right?

We had a wide selection of cakes, breads, candy, treats, cookies and brownies to choose from.  The biggest change this year was that all 15 items that I baked were vegan, and I was really happy with how they came out.

Here are some photos from our wild and crazy day!

SPCA Bake Sale Cake Bread

Cakes and Breads

SPCA Bake Sale Pound Cake

SisMama's Cream Cheese Pound Cake: DEEEElicious!

SPCA Bake Sale Cookies Brownies

Cookies and Brownies

SPCA Bake Sale Vegan Cookies

Vegan Cookies

SPCA Bake Sale Biscotti

Vegan Cranberry Orange Macadamia Biscotti

SPCA Bake Sale Biscotti Reindeer

Reindeer Bucket O' Biscotti sold out quickly!

SPCA Bake Sale Treats

Treats and more treats

SPCA Bake Sale Santa Treats

Santa's Spiced Pecans surrounded by more goodies!

SPCA Bake Sale Sponsor CityVet

Huge thanks to our first SPCA Bake Sale Sponsor: CityVet!

Thanks to CityVet and to everyone who helped us raise a bunch more money for the SPCA of Texas!  We appreciate you and look forward to next year!

~BigSis

SPCA Bake Sale 2010 Today!

December 12, 2010

SPCA Christmas Bake Sale

As I mentioned with great enthusiasm and anticipation last the week, our 3rd Annual Bake Sale for the SPCA of Texas is TODAY, Monday, December 13!  100% of the proceeds go directly to the SPCA.

Last year, our sale raised over $4,000 in one day, and we hope to repeat that success this year.  Here are the details:

Location: Dallas, Texas (If you can come, please email me for the address)

Time: 8 am until 6 pm or sell-out, whichever comes first!

If you can’t attend but you’d like to support the SPCA of Texas, you can contribute through this web page:  http://www.spca.org/bakesale

Thanks in advance for your support!  Stay tuned for photos and the scoop on the outcome of the day!

~BigSis

SPCA Christmas Bake Sale #3!

December 8, 2010

This December 13th will be our 4th charity bake sale, and the 3rd one we’ve done at Christmas for the SPCA of Texas.  Since I stopped eating and using eggs and dairy products this last January, I needed to find some great new recipes for this year’s sale.  We’ve been blessed with great success and happy customers that return year after year, so scrapping all of my old recipes and starting over was a daunting proposition!  I was especially motivated to find some fabulous goodies after a hater told me I’d be disappointed because no one would buy “that vaygan stuff”!

I bought several vegan baking cookbooks and did a lot of online research, and finally swooped into the kitchen to get my hands dirty.  I’ve been baking up a storm in my lab (aka kitchen) for the last several weeks, trying out new recipes.  The latest test: Oatmeal Dried Cherry Cookies adapted from Veganomicon: The Ultimate Vegan Cookbook.

Vegan Oat Cherry Cookie

These cookies had a great flavor, and would have been excellent if I hadn’t over-baked them by a couple of minutes.  That’s why I test though.  I have a rule that I never make a recipe for the bake sale without taking it for a test drive first.

I’m pretty excited with the successes I’ve had.  I actually have well over a dozen things to choose from.  These are my favorite options.

  • Chocolate Chunk Oatmeal Coconut Cookies adapted from Epicurious
  • Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie with Peanuts and Almond Meal adapted from Cookie Madness

There’s much more baking to be done so I’m dashing back to the kitchen for more baking frenzy.  I’ll be back next week with photos from the sale, and hopefully a big donation to the SPCA to report!

~BigSis

Cook for Your Pet Day!

November 1, 2010

Uneasy Truce

Did you know that November 1st is officially Cook for Your Pet Day?  Yesterday, we humiliated them by dressing them up in costumes to amuse ourselves, so I guess it’s only fitting that we cook for them today to apologize!

I’ve never cooked for my cats before, and don’t really want to since they’re meat-eaters and I’m vegan.  I’m not going to try to veganize them since they’re carnivores by nature, but I can’t see myself cooking up a big ol’ batch of meaty goodness for them.  I love ’em, but I gotta draw the line somewhere!

If you, however, are a more selfless person than me and have the urge to cook today for your furkids, here are some ideas for you:

  • Foods to avoid when cooking for your animals
  • Dog food and treat recipes from www.thepoop.com

On a very serious note, if you plan to cook for your cats beyond occasional treats, please do your research before considering feeding them a homemade diet.  They have very specific nutritional needs, including a necessity for the amino acid taurine, and neglecting these nutrients can result in illness and even death.  Vetinfo.com can get you started with the basics on essential feline nutrition, but talk with your vet and don’t underestimate the importance of your kitty’s needs!

~BigSis

Halloween Cats in Hats!

October 20, 2010

I don’t think we’ve mentioned lately how much our kitties love wearing hats!  :-)

If you don’t believe us, just look at these happy faces from previous Halloweens when all three of them posed in their favorite witch hat!

TomTom looking very sly in his witch hat.

TomTom looking very sly in his witch hat.

Ashy trying to look like he isn't enjoying his witch hat.

Ashy trying to look like he isn't enjoying his witch hat.

Gaby looking very dark and mysterious in his witch hat.

Gaby looking very dark and mysterious in his witch hat.

See. Don’t they look like they’re having fun?

(We’re both animal lovers so we want to assure you that there is never any cruel treatment to our little furkids to get these photos.  Please don’t call the authorities on us.)

Since we no longer host costume parties or have little kiddos to dress up, we sisters just get a kick out of showing off our little furkids in their Halloween costumes, their Christmas outfits, and their New Years Eve hats.  We actually don’t need much of an occasion in order to torment them with photo shoots.

No, we aren’t crazy cat ladies (yet)!  I know we aren’t the only ones who like dressing up our pets. I was in Petco today and couldn’t believe all the cute outfits for little doggies!

Does your pet have his/her Halloween costume yet? If so, we would LOVE to see them!

Just for the pure fun of it, we thought we would have a little Parade of Pet Costumes here on BigSisLilSis for Halloween. And this parade isn’t limited to just kitties; it’s open to all pets: dogs, bunnies, guinea pigs, birds, reptiles…you name it.  We want to see it!  Cats in Hats, Masquerading Mutts, Doggies in Dresses, Incognito Iguanas…you get the idea!

If you want to join in on the fun, just snap a photo of your pet in their hat or costume and email it to either BigSis (BigSis at BigSisLilSis dot com) or LilSis (LilSis at BigSisLilSis dot com) by Thursday, October 28th and don’t forget to mention your pet’s name.

We’ll post the parade here on Halloween, Sunday, October 31st!  :-)

~LilSis

Cruelty-Free Shopping: 1st Update

September 2, 2010

Lil Bunny

Do I want to be responsible for hurting this littl bun bun? Oh, hell, no!

A little over a month ago, I made a commitment to purge my household – and my life – of products that are tested on animals.  I heard about the 120 beagles who were rescued on July 4th from a bankrupt testing lab in New York, and was absolutely heartbroken to think that they had never been outdoors, chased a ball or run with other dogs.  They had never been allowed to be dogs; they were just test subjects.

I’ve been vegetarian for 16 years, and 99% vegan for the last 8 months, so it seemed inconsistent that I avoid eating meat, dairy and eggs because I don’t want to be a party to an animal’s suffering, but I’m doing exactly that when I buy my favorite Loreal mascara.  Or Charmin toilet paper.  Or Garnier hair color.

So I decided to get with the program and clean out my house.  Care to know how it’s going?  I’m not gonna lie; it’s a bit tough here and there.  I have these random conflicted conversations with myself…

Maybe I’ll just buy the Charmin toilet paper one more time, then I’ll buy Seventh Generation.

No, you’re a hypocrite. You said you were committed.

I am, but it’s TOILET PAPER for cryin out loud!  I can’t buy crappy TOILET PAPER!  No one will know if I buy it just once more.

You’ll know.  You’ll make one exception, then it’ll be two, then fourteen.  Do it 100% or don’t do it all.

Yeah, but I can’t find a new mascara that I like.  I have to have a good mascara!  You can’t expect me to sacrifice everything!

If you buy that mascara, you’re responsible for poking the wand into a bunny’s eye!  Don’t do it!  Don’t do it!  There are plenty of other mascaras out there that you haven’t tried yet.  Don’t be a quitter.

Well, what about my Clorox Toilet Wand?  Do I have to go back to having a drippy germy toilet brush in my bathroom?

Stop being a baby!  Are you committed to living without contributing to animal suffering, or are you committed to whining?

And so it goes.

To be completely honest, it’s easier to replace some products than others.

  • Method and quite a few other companies make cleaning products that are cruelty-free.
  • The Seventh Generation laundry detergent that I bought is happily cheaper than Tide!
  • I’ve tried 3 mascaras already, and am not in love with any of them, but I have others to try and am confident there is a great mascara out there that is not animal-tested.
  • I found a shaving cream that smells heavenly, like coconuts, and feels like buttah!

On the other hand, I’m having some big challenges.

  • The biggest is with paper products.  I’m pretty picky about the brands of TP, paper towels and napkins I buy; not to mention those, you know – feminine products – and I haven’t found any good replacements for them yet.  There don’t seem to be many options at all to choose from.  Surely, there has to be a solution!  The search continues…
  • I’m also wondering what to do about my Swiffer Wet Jet that I dearly love.  Could there be a way to still make use of it since I already have it, without buying any more liquid or pad refills?  Those things were darn expensive anyway.

As I test more products and find excellent cruelty-free products, I’m going to assemble a list that will hopefully help someone else in my position.  I don’t want to blow smoke at you and tell you this process is a piece of cake, but it’s worthwhile and I’m committed.  Still whining a little now and then, because apparently I’m a much bigger brand-ho than I realized, and I like things the way I like them.  But I’m still committed!  😀

I’m really hoping that some of you will have some suggestions for me!  If you do, PLEASE send them my way and I’ll pay it forward!

Lil Bunny image from KevenLaws Flickr photostream.

~BigSis

Boycotting Animal Testing Could Hurt

July 25, 2010

Rescued Beagle

How could I intentially inflict suffering on this adorable little thing?

When I heard the story about the 120 beagles rescued from the bankrupt animal testing lab, I was convicted to renew my commitment to banishing animal-tested products from my house.  Since then, every few minutes I think of another product I can’t buy again.  Here’s my list so far:

  • Loreal Lash Out Mascara
  • Loreal Voluminous Mascara
  • Loreal Eye Cream
  • Loreal EverPure Shampoo
  • Lancome Bi-Facil Eye Make Up Remover
  • Olay Regenerist Anti-Aging Undereye Roller
  • Garnier Nutrisse Hair Color
  • Tide
  • Clorox Wipes
  • Clorox Toilet Cleaner
  • Aveeno Shave Cream
  • Arm & Hammer Baking Soda
  • Clean & Clear Blotting Papers
  • Neutrogena Shampoo, Conditioner and Hair Mask
  • Redken Align Hair Straightening Lotion
  • Hawaiian Tropic Sunscreen
  • Scrubbing Bubbles
  • Glad AND Ziploc Bags
  • Puffs Tissues
  • Swiffer Products
  • Charmin Bath Tissue

Quite a monster list already, isn’t it?  I know that list will just get longer and longer, until it probably looks like it includes everything I use.  It really makes me feel bad that I’ve been supporting animal testing by buying all this cr*p from bunches of offending companies.

It’s going to hurt to abandon products that I’ve loved and used faithfully; sometimes for decades.  I have to experiment and find new products to replace all those…products that aren’t tested on animals!

But the point is, animal testing hurts bunnies, beagles, primates, mice and rats.  A lot.  More than we can even imagine. My momentary withdrawal pains are nothing in comparison.  Suck it up, BigSis. Instead of adopting a whiney attitude of “look what I’m giving up”, I’m going to approach this as an adventurous opportunity to find some products that are even better than what I was using before.  AND, no one will have to suffer because of my purchase.

Photo credit: Best Friends

~BigSis

FURminator is THE Hairball Solution!

July 20, 2010

My cats have never been so beautiful! Look at this shiny coat on my Gaby:

Gaby Furminator

Ashy’s coat is just as shiny.  In fact, these two are SO beautiful that I contemplated making a third cat out of the massive blob of hair that the FURminator pulled out of them!

Can you believe this?!  And this pile wasn’t even from their first session with this miracle tool; it was the second!

Furminator

I’d never even heard of the FURminator before, and now I’m the biggest cheerleader for this thing.  Do you know about the FURminator?  The purple tool in the photo above is the cat version with a 1.75″ edge that literally grabs onto the undercoat and gently pulls it out.  There is also a dog FURminator with a 4″ edge.

I know what you’re thinking. “BigSis, you probably don’t brush your cats. We should probably report you to the authorities for animal neglect.  No wonder you got so much dead hair out of their coat!  And your poor cats are probably Persians that you let get matted!  Shame on you, BigSis!”

Honestly, that’s not it at all. My cats get brushed regularly with a slicker brush, and I STILL got this much hair out of them!  Plus, they’re short-haired guys, not long-haired dudes!

I’m thinking my hairball problem just got solved with the discovery of the FURminator.  Voila.  Simple as that.  I paid over $35 for mine at PetSMart, and after seeing how well it works, it’s pretty much invaluable to me.  I don’t care how much I paid for it.  If you follow the FURminator links we’ve given you though, you can get your FURminator for a whole lot less than what I paid locally!  That’s a sweet deal!

I don’t RAVE about that many products, but this thing is unbelievable.  Do yourself a favor, and FURminate the dead hair out of your animal’s coat instead of cleaning it off your carpet!

~BigSis

Beagle Independence Day in New York!

July 18, 2010

Rex the Beagle Learns to Run

Rex the Beagle Learns to Run

Did you hear about the July 4th rescue of 120 beagles from a  New York testing lab that went bankrupt?  Check this video of their Independence Day!

PetsAlive in Middletown, New York rescued the beagles, and got a hand from Best Friends.  Can you imagine 120 dogs who had never been outside, walked on grass, played with a toy, chased a ball, ran, sniffed another dog, walked on a leash, and most importantly…had never been loved?  PetsAlive and Best Friends had to be sensitive to these emotional issues, and also take care of the physical needs at the same time: vet checkups, neuterings and spayings, microchipping, shots, etc.  Then they had to find homes – good homes – for all of these guys.

As of last Friday the 16th, only 15 beagle babies were still looking for their new home.  If you think you might have one of those homes, you can still go to PetsAlive and fill out an online application.

Once all 120 of these beagles are safely placed in loving homes, what else can we do?  We can make sure that we DON’T support animal testing.  If we commit to only purchasing products that are NOT animal tested, then the testing will stop.  If we’re endorsing animal testing by buying those products, then animals like these beagles will continue to suffer.

Who DOESN’T animal test?  It’s simple to find out.  Go to caringconsumer.com and search for specific companies, or click on “Companies That Don’t Test” and “Companies That Do Test” to see printable lists.

You might be surprised to see that some really large, well-respected companies still animal test: Dial, Johnson & Johnson, Loreal, Max Factor, Bic, Clorox, Clairol, Procter & Gamble, Pantene, etc.  It’s disappointing.

The good news is that there are lots of companies who do not animal test, and they aren’t a bunch of hippy-dippy companies with low-quality products: Almay, Arbonne, Aveda, Bare Escentuals, Bath & Body Works, Bobbi Brown, The Body Shop, Caldrea, Calvin Klein, Clarins, Clinique, Essie, Estee Lauder, Jolen, L’Occitane, Lush, MAC, Norelco, Ojon, OPI, Origins, Paul Mitchell, Pureology, Stila, Trader Joe’s, Urban Decay, Victoria’s Secret, Whole Foods 365 House Brand, and hundreds more.

I’m committing to research all of the things I buy, and then I’m boycotting any company still on the testing list.  How about you?  I don’t want the suffering of more beagles, primates and bunnies on my conscience.

For more information on the beagle rescue, check PetsAlive press page.

Rex’s photo courtesy of Best Friends

~BigSis