Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Chia Pet Kitai.... A Custom Halloween Dog Costume

Introducing the Original Chia Pet Dog Costume...

Meet Chia Pet Kitai. Classic. I've been thinking about making this costume for a couple of years. I started making costumes for Kitai years ago when we used to go trick-or-treating around the neighborhood. Our neighbors would give him dog treats, toys, lunch meat and hot dogs. Score!

I'm always trying to dream up costume ideas that have never been done before. How I test out my ideas? I go to Google Images and enter the idea and add "dog costume" to the end. If no images turn up in the results I proceed...

Kitai is such a good sport. He really doesn't mind wearing his costumes and eagerly hops over to me for fittings because he gets a cookie every time he does. He also loves wearing his costumes because it means he's going somewhere fun :)

I love this shot taken from above. He's so big and green!

Because I make the costume in several parts the pattern allows Kitai to stand, walk, sit and lay down. It's pretty darn comy for him.

Here's how I did it. I used plastic aquarium plants that you can buy in pairs that are square mats. The only problem was that I needed 5 and apparently each Petsmart stocks 3 sets. So I had to make two trips to different stores to find enough of them.

I pulled all of the foliage off the mats. Then I made a horse blanket out of green felt and strategically cut holes in the felt using an x-acto knife. Felt is great because you don't need to finish the edges when you cut them. To find this particular shade of green I had to use wool (not polyester) felt available at JoAnn Fabrics. CLICK HERE for a post with more detailed instructions.

I pushed the prongs of the grid through the holes and reattached the foliage alternating the two different types of leaves. I then lined the entire costume from the back so that none of the plastic could poke him or make him feel uncomfortable.

Around his neck I hand stitched the leaves to cover the felt. Here's a close up of how the foliage was attached.

His terra cotta legs were made of cotton fabric. There is a liner pant leg that fits his leg and the larger pot shaped leg that went over the inner casing. The legs are all held in place by suspender style straps that span over his shoulders and back. The green cross strap down his back is to keep the rear pant legs from slipping down off of his back.

Here's a little tutorial about how I made the terra cotta pant legs. CLICK HERE for a post with more detailed instructions.

It was a lot of work! It's always more then I anticipate. But somehow it all seems to come together in the end.

Anyways, I hope seeing his costume makes you laugh because it's all in fun!

2004 - Spider Bait

2005 - Sake Nigiri (sushi)

2006 - The Dog Whisperer has been Kitai's most famous costume. Read all about his trip to NYC to be on the Today show on Halloween morning  2007.

2007 - Pupcorn

2008 - Mounds Mutt Size Candy Bar Costume he wore it to the Silicon Valley Fur Ball a black tie fundraise for the shelter I adopted him from.

Kitai's new Pro-Neuter costume! Get it? No Nuts!

2010 - Sea Otter with a real dog/otter tail!
On The Flirty Blog a "how to" post for Kitai's 2010 costume:
Cutest Dog Ever Sea Otter Halloween Costume!

2011 - Homage to "The Woz"
Kitai plays Segway polo on his own miniature Segway:

2012 - Banana Slug Dog Costume

If you want to see more photos of Kitai's past costumes just visit his Costume Page on his website www.CutestDogEver.com.

Saturday, October 24, 2009


Please help our friend Roger, help others.

October 24, 2009
11:00 a.m. - 3:30 p.m.
Questions? Call (786) 281-8316

Location: Gabby's
4659 Telephone Road
Houston, Texas

Roger will be hosting his first Blood & Bone Marrow Drive. The Gulf Coast Blood Center will be collecting the donations. They will be giving away free shirts. You will also be able to purchase the "Cancer Sucks / I Have MDS" wristbands for just a few dollars. "I Have MDS" is the name of Roger's cancer blog about his experience. Or you can CLICK HERE to order a wristband through Helping Tami.org. All proceeds go to Roger who has been unable to work since his transplant in March. He uses the money to help pay for parking at the hospital, pills and meals.

In the past 10 months Roger has received over 200 units of blood to keep him alive before and after receiving his stem cell transplant. He has been traveling down the long road of recovery since I met him earlier this year.

This is Roger losing his hair post-chemo to prepare for his transplant.

While Roger was more fortunate then Tami in that his sister was a perfect match, as a plumber by trade, he was uninsured when he was diagnosed delaying his treatment for a year until the transplant hospital was able to take him in as a patient in a special program for those without insurance.

After being the beneficiary of such generosity from the hospital and all of the people who had donated the blood and platelets he has used the past year, he wants to give back and help others. Will you drop by Gabbys and help him to make his drive a success? You can give blood or register to join the National Marrow Donor Program. Or do both!

Joining the marrow donor program takes about 10 minutes to fill out a registration form and to swab the inside of your mouth with a cotton swab. It's that easy!

Friday, October 23, 2009

A Unique Favor Idea for a Dream Wedding

The Bride asked for a favor that can be given away at the reception with the theme of the wedding being "Dreams do Come True."

Here is a the Flirty Idea I came up with, a Sweet Dreams Sachet. There are several variables that can help keep the cost and effort down or if the budget and time allow, the finished favor can be more detailed and quite elegant.

Once I decided to create little pillow sachets the idea of how to present them immediately followed. A napkin folded into a little bed and the pillow tucked in appropriately.

The sachet can be filled with a floral scent like roses or lavender for the women and cedar for the men.

Here are two more variations of this idea presented on The Flirty Guide in the Flirty Idea Gallery.

CLICK HERE to view them in detail on The Flirty Guide.

I hope you find this DIY idea fun and inspiring!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Flower Flour *nom, nom, nom*

I can't believe I didn't know about this place! Flower Flour is right in Willow Glen and is a combination of a flower shop and pattiserie that has beautiful pastries! I had a late morning meeting there today and had the organic lentil soup. YUM!

While there I also had this chocolate and raspberry mousse dessert with chocolate cake on the bottom. Yes, it tasted as good as it looks!

I brought home this bread pudding...

And a Pear Frangipane Tart. Oooooh big dilemma. I want to eat one right now but can't decide which one! Maybe a bit of both? That sounds like a good plan :P

Chinese and Asian Americans Please Help Me to Help Janet

People this is the real deal. Twenty two year old Janet is a patient in critical need. She was diagnosed just months ago with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (bi-phenotypic).

This is Janet's desperate truth, her plea to help her save her own life that I read last night in her most recent blog post. Many of the people who she thought would reach out to help her have not:
"I became distraught because an urgent email was sent from a coordinator at Asian Miracle Matches to 70 of my closest friends in Southern California that I was willing to burden. Only 2 of them replied. No, I’m not popular at all."
I am hoping that all of you will reach out to help her. There is something you can do. You can join the registry or if you already have I implore you to reach out to anyone you know who is of any Asian ethnicity (particularly if they are Chinese) and ask them if they have joined the registry.

Janet's match could be anyone you know and of any Aisan ethnicity whether they are a friend, family or extended family member, a colleague, neighbor, or anyone you might happen to meet in your day to day life. The base requirements are that they are 18-60 years of age and in good health.

If they say they are not in the registry please direct them to any of the following websites to learn more about the pain free registration process and the donation process that is not, contrary to popular beliefs, excruciatingly painful. Most people who donate their marrow or stem cells suffer from relatively little discomfort if any at all. Nausea and a bruised sensation is usually the worst of it. They can learn more about the donation process on the HelpingTami.org website by CLICKING HERE.

They can also learn where live drives are held nationwide or how to order a home test kit at:

Live Drives Nationwide Using their Zip Code Locater
The National Marrow Donor Program website: www.BeTheMatch.org

Southern California Live Drives
Asians for Miracle Matches website: www.AsianMarrow.org

Northern California Drives
Asian American Donor Program website: www.AADP.org

More words from Janet:

"There’s an overwhelming amount of guilt I feel and frustration, because all I can do is keep asking and begging. That’s all I’m good for these days with no guaranteed promise of the ability to return your favors. I also understand that many of you have fruitful, promising lives/futures and are extremely busy. All I can really tell you is that I have about 3-4 months time to come up with some kind of bone marrow donor match. That is nearly impossible. The pressure is on, as my doctors and bone marrow transplant coordinator continuously remind me of the time-sensitive nature of treating this disease. If not, they’ll continue to drag it on and on, keeping me alive with one chemo round after another until I become resistant to it and there’s no other alternative except an umbilical cord transplant, which will buy more time and is currently in the research/experimental stages."

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Our WUWT Bone Marrow Episode is Now Award Winning TV!

I've received fantastic news!

Do you remember when I was a guest on the KMVT public access tv show "What's Up Wit' That?" I was representing www.HelpingTami.org to help spread the word about why ethnicity is so important when it comes to locating a life saving marrow match for patients in need and why the National Marrow Donor Program needs more people to join the registry.

I was asked to be "the" guest but asked Loretta Beavers, the show's Producer, if I could invite a representative from the AADP.org and another patient's advocate. Loretta said yes and the pieces fell into place when Carol Gillespie, Executive Director of the Asian American Donor Program and James Nguyen, a representative from Team Matthew.org both agreed to join me on the show with host Andrew T. Willyoung.

So here's the great news... Drum roll please... The “What’s Up Wit’ That? Bone Marrow” episode was a BIG WINNER at the Western Access Video Excellence Awards!

It was entered in the new category:
Free Speech TV Community Activism Award - NEW:
Programming that encourages people to get involved in positive social change. Winner will receive a national broadcast on Free Speech TV reaching over 30 million U.S. households, and a special award from Free Speech TV. Submissions of all lengths, genres, and experience levels will be considered. The winner will demonstrate outstanding storytelling skills, exposing arguments for community engagement so powerfully that television viewers will find them irresistible.
Free Speech TV is the community access channel on the Dish satellite network.

As award winners the show receives a plaque AND the our Bone Marrow episode will be aired to a national audience of 30 million households on Free Speech TV!

Is this great news or what? Loretta and John the co-producers of this episode are very excited about the win! I would like to thank them for thinking of my cousin and inviting me to appear on the show. I had no idea when we filmed it that it would even be submitted to win any kind of award. It was just another step in my efforts to figure out how to help my cousin. And now since more people will see it, it will help to support donor recruitment nationwide!

James, host Andrew T. Willyoung, Stacie and Carol

Please share this episode with anyone you think might be willing to join the marrow donor program if only they understood how vast the problem is. The episode dispels a lot of myths about the donation process including one of the biggest obstacles to recruiting new donors: That donating marrow is excruciatingly painful. It is not. The worst discomfort some people feel is temporary nausea for a few hours or mild pain that feels like a bruise. And seriously, isn't a little discomfort a small price to pay to give another person their life back?

Anyone who is between the ages of 18-60 years old and is in good health can become part of the solution and can help to save the lives of the 6000 Americans in need if a marrow/stem cell match can be found in time. To learn more about the donor program you can visit:

www.BeTheMatch.org (The National Marrow Donor Program)
www.AADP.org (A Minority Ethnicities Recruitment Group)

Monday, October 19, 2009

Blogging and the New Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Guidelines

In a nut shell, 1980 was the last time the the Federal Trade Commission revised its guidelines regarding endorsements and testimonials. So new revisions, set to take effect on December 1, 2009, are a sign of the times and stem from the fact that some bloggers, Twitterers, and web writers, receive compensation to review products and services online.

The FTC believes compensation can create a conflict of interest if a blogger gives a favorable review to a less then favorable product or company simply because they are receiving an incentive in the form of money or a freebie sample. One exception is if free samples are offered to the general public. Disclosure is not required so long as the writer wasn't specifically identified and approached by the company offering the promotion.

When you read my blog do you think of me as a friend?

If you take everything you read with a grain of salt these new guidelines might seem unnecessary. But some readers feel like a blog is to know and trust the author the same way they might a friend. There is a different type of familiarity that occurs with those who blog and tweet because we aren't always perceived the same way as "news, media or press." This more personal familiarity can leave some readers vulnerable to being misled because they may fail to recognize that some writers may have reasons to put an advertisers interests before the interests of their readers.

Or do you think of me as Press?

To be clear, the FTC isn't proposing that compensation can't happen, they're simply saying that if it does happen it needs to be "conspicuously" disclosed to the blog's readers. My understanding is that the guidelines are not law but are interpretations of law. If compensation for a particular post was received but not disclosed the blogger could face legal action by the FTC.

To be honest I'm not certain where the majority and minority of public opinion rests on this topic but my feeling is that I personally don't have a problem with disclosing if I'm being compensated, how and by whom. In fact I already do.

I did receive this Dyson vacuum to review for the company. The instructions given when reviewing the product were:
"Dyson wants genuine feedback based on your experience, so feel free to post what you don't like, as well as what you like."
Also noteworthy was that it was my membership and participation on the Dogster.com website, and a request to post my review publicly there, that led to my being selected to review the vacuum. This was also fully disclosed in the post.

On this blog it's obvious when I'm blogging about one of the Flirty Guide advertisers as their name will link over to their Flirty Guide profile. I had already included the following information on my Blog Policies page so I think I'm in the clear:
Advertisers of The Flirty Guide are blogged about when warranted. However, simply being an advertiser of The Flirty Guide does not guarantee a post upon demand. The information has to be useful to the blog's readers by being unique and/or informative or helpful.

For all others if Stacie mentions a company by name she does so voluntarily.

At this time the Flirty Guide Blog does not perform pay-for-post reviews.
CLICK HERE to view the FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION 16 C.F.R. Part 255 "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising" PDF.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Patricia Fripp, San Francisco NACE and Kenyon Estate

You can click on any photo to view a larger version of the image. ESPECIALLY THE FOOD PICTURES :P

So, the other day it was the storm of 2009 and I was heading up to San Francisco with Flirty Guide Wedding Videographer David Ethridge from AVR Films, Photographer Dennis Menendez and Wedding Consultant Nicole Lisanne for the SF NACE meeting being held in Vallejo at Kenyon Estate. The reason we braved the storm and weathered the traffic (pun intended) was to catch a limo ride from SF to Vallejo, listen to a presentation by Hall of Fame Speaker Patricia Fripp and dine on dinner and desserts by Dean & Deluca Catering.

The limo ride provided by Butler Limousines was a blast and much more fun then driving up alone. We took carpooling to the next level. Here you see Nicole Lisanne and Dennis Menedez being very animated getting ready to hop into the limo. I asked them to "look excited" and this is what I got. LOL

The top photo is Sharon Purewal of Maximize Events, her colleague Jessica and Wedding Photographer Dennis Menendez.

In the lower picture foreground that's David Ethridge and Mark Guter of the Cathedral Hill Hotel where we all met to catch the limo.

Arriving at Kenyon Estate in style!

The estate is perched on top of a hill with a beautiful view of the valley below. Their website says:
The Kenyon Estate offers unparalleled 180 degree views of water and natural hillsides from Mt. Diablo in the south to Mt. Tamalpais in the west all the way to Mt. Saint Helena at the north of the Napa Valley.
As we walked through the front door we checked in at the registration table and immediately were offered libations by the very friendly staff from Bartenders Unlimited. I had my usual water with lime :)

It was a large group that evening. Here we were mixing and milling about saying hello to friends and meeting new people. I had the pleasure of running into Wedding Coordinator Maxine Goulding, of California Special Events, and spent the evening dining and catching up with her.

There was a stunning, lit, ice sculpture display where oysters on the half shell were provided by The Oyster Girls. They raise their oysters in Tomales Bay just north of Point Reyes. There were also hand passed trays of grilled oysters on the half shell being served. Due to my allergies I was not able to partake in them but can verify that everyone around me seemed to enjoy them immensely...

The beautiful ice sculpture display was created by Chisel-it Ice. Beneath a globe of sparkling clear ice were tiers comprised of large scallop shells filled with crushed ice and oysters. They were accompanied by a large bowl with small pockets to hold the fresh lemon wedges.

This is the view of the valley from the patio that is adjacent to the Great Room.

My traveling buddy Dennis Menedez grabbing a few photos before the event began.

And here is David Ethridge setting up to video tape Patricia's presentation in the Great Room.

The Great Room was in the final stage of completion when we arrived. I snuck in for a few pictures before the lights were dimmed and the room filled with guests.

Beautiful right? The centerpieces by Laurel Designs were wonderful accents providing color and elegance without being too overstated.

The "Cheese & Charcuterie" antipasto by Dean & Deluca Catering

Just looking at the pictures is making my mouth water all over again. The antipasto platters by Dean & Deluca were placed at each table packed full of 3 cheeses, fresh figs, olives, salami, cornichons and grapes.

The meal began with a salad. I have to admit I couldn't help but add cheese from the antipasto to my salad. In fact I wanted to add those cheeses to everything I ate that night. They were absolutely delicious!

The tables were gorgeous! I am so lucky to work in an industry where attending such functions and events are a normal part of my job. The linens were provided by La Tavola and he place settings by Classic Party Rentals, Napa.

Event Co-chairs Duncan Reyes and Beverly Yip thanked everyone for attending then introduced our guest speaker that evening.

A few weeks ago Duncan had raved to me what a fantastic speaker Patricia Fripp is, so I walked into the room with some pretty high expectations. And of course he was right! At the end of her presentation Patricia received a standing ovation. I wish all of my friends and colleague could have been there. This was a not to be missed event.

This photo of Patricia Fripp at Kenyon Estate is by Richard Mayer Photography

If you EVER have the opportunity to attend a presentation by Patricia Fripp, go. Don't think about it, just do it. Clear your calendar and attend. You won't be disappointed. Patricia is dynamic, fun, knowledgeable and a wonderfully effective public speaker. If you're like me you'll walk away energized and ready to improve the way you present yourself and how you interact with other people in business and in life.

This is a video on Youtube of Patricia speaking at another event. There are a lot of videos of her there and I can't wait to watch each and every one of them. Braised Short Ribs in Cabernet Au Jus, with Bleu Cheese Polenta and Braised Organic Swiss Chard After Patricia's presentation the meal continued with the main course. Most of you know that for the most part, meaning 99.95% of the time, I do not eat beef or pork, but I fell off the wagon that night because I did try the braised short ribs. And they were excellent. Kind of like how my mom used to make... But even better. (I can say that because my mom never reads my blog so if you know her please don't tell her I said that.) The meat was so tender it literally fell apart and the bleu cheese polenta and swiss chard were also delicious.
Pumpkin Cream Cheese Cupcake
And then came the Dean & Deluca "Dessert Delectable Bar." I tried two of the four pictured here and only later found out there was a fifth item I had somehow overlooked! *GASP* I missed out on the chocolate cookies with salt. Everyone who had one said they were the best so I know I would have loved them too. *sniff sniff* I especially knew I'd love them because remember how I ate an entire tin of 6 flavors of Dean & Deluca cookies all by myself earlier this year? Ha ha ha. Oh my gosh I was so out of control!
I gave my pumpkin cupcake to Steve, our limo driver, when we left. He didn't get to participate in the evenings food and libations so hopefully it was a nice treat for him.
Lemon Meringue Pie
I did have the bite size, lemon meringue pie. It was perfection. Lemon curd on a very thin ginger cookie with a little dollop of perfectly browned meringue on top.
Fig Shortbread
This was my personal favorite. The fig shortbread cookies. I love figs and the only way I'd ever had them up until a few years ago was in Fig Newton cookies. Many restaurants in the Bay Area include them in things like gourmet pizzas, so I order them whenever I spot them on a menu. This was a winning combination of sweet figs in a buttery cookie. Double yum factor for sure.
Hand-made Honey Marshmallows
And our cute favor boxes were provided by MC Sweets.
As the evening wound down we headed out and saw the courtyard fountain out front beautifully lit in the darkness. And as we headed down the hill we could see Kenyon Estate flanked by the lit trees along the main drive. Despite the storm it was a wonderful and memorable evening. Many thanks to San Francisco NACE.
LOL There is a bit more to this evening in the form of a dark and creepy adventure we had upon returning to SF but I'll be creating a separate blog post for that story. It was one of those "Duh" kind of moments :P