Sustainability Spotlight: JORD’s Incredible Wood Watches

Sustainability Spotlight: JORD’s Incredible Wood Watches

The Sustainability Spotlight is a chance for us to appreciate companies who are working to better the environment and minimize their carbon footprint. As humans on this earth, it is our ethical responsibility to maintain and better our planet for the sake of ourselves and future generations.

Watches have always made me feel more important. I do not typically wear watches as I am one of the many millions of Americans who carry a smartphone around with them all day, every day. When I wear a watch now, its more of a statement piece. Watches now mean professionalism and sophistication.

So you can imagine my excitement when I discovered a watch brand that was committed to doing right by the planet.

JORD was founded in 2013 by people who wanted to make a difference. Their purpose was to create sustainable wood watches for people who don’t just have somewhere to be, but who have somewhere to go. From the very beginning, JORD’s mission was to help the environment. Even the word “JORD” (pronounced “yode”) comes from the Norse word meaning “earth.”

Sustainability is a huge focus at JORD. Most of the wood they use for their gorgeous wood watches and humidor boxes comes from furniture remnants. These small pieces of wood would normally be thrown away, to further populate already overflowing landfills. However, JORD is able to take these small pieces to create the cases and individual links found on their wood watches. Pretty amazing, right?!

Many JORD watches are made of Bamboo or Maple, which are completely sustainable types of wood. Bamboo grows quickly, requires zero fertilizer, and regenerates from its own roots. Maple also grows very quickly, which makes both of these materials great options if you’re looking to be more sustainable!

As far as the rest of the wood materials used in their watches, a lot of it comes from damaged trees or trees brought down by natural weather events.

But that is not all JORD does to help the environment! They are heavily focused on people as well. Environmental safeguards are policies and essential tools to help prevent harm to people and the environment during production processes. What this basically means, is companies take precautions during the creation of their products to make sure the environment is safe and people are safe from harmful chemicals.

JORD treats all of its wood watches with natural substances instead of hazardous chemicals. The watches are conditioned with natural tung oil, and thats it! This is tremendously better for the environment and the wonderful people that are making these beautiful watches!

I recently was gifted a beautiful JORD watch that I am completely obsessed with! I got the Arcadia in silver and white turquoise. It comes with both an interchangeable leather and metal mesh band. Not only is the quality on point, whenever I wear this piece I can’t help but be reminded of the good this company is doing for the environment and the world.

With any JORD watch purchase from their website, you can get the piece engraved for free! I was so excited to hear about this option. I chose to have some very special words engraved on the back of my watch. My grandmother passed away last year, and the last card she gave me she wrote “You are loved very much” at the end. Those words always stuck with me, especially when she got sick. I’m especially glad I got these words engraved on my beautiful watch because it’ll be a constant reminder of my grandmother in a subtle but special way.

Want a JORD watch of your own? I’m hosting a giveaway right now for a $100 JORD gift card! Click this link, and follow the instructions to enter. Even if you don’t win the gift card, you’ll get a coupon code for 10% off any purchase!

Wooden Wrist Watch

Movie Review: The Lion King

Movie Review: The Lion King

Some movies just hold a special place in your heart. Whether it reminds you of a specific person or a moment, or it just makes you feel something inside when you watch it. Movies have that power. And for me, The Lion King is that movie.

I talked about this before in a post about my grandmother’s passing. My grandmother and I used to watch The Lion King all the time when I was small. Even when I got older, she would sometimes laugh about the memory of me as a child begging her to rewind the VHS so we could watch it one more time.

My first ever copy of The Lion King was a VHS (shout-out to all the 90s babies out there!) I had “borrowed” from my aunt who baby sat me often. I say “borrow” because she never got the copy back. But we watched it all the time together. Anyone who baby sat me during that time watched The Lion King with me. It was my movie, and it continued to be my movie throughout the rest of my childhood.

Currently, I am 24 years old and own four copies of The Lion King (three DVDs and that old VHS still lives in my closet), one copy of Lion King 1 1/2, and two copies of The Lion King 2 (which has a completely underrated soundtrack. Go give it a listen.) Its still my movie. I still watch it from time to time. I still know every piece of dialogue and lyric to every song. I still get emotional and goosebumpy during the opening scene. It still has a profound effect on me all these years later.

So naturally, ya girl was hella excited about The Lion King reboot.

Initially, I had a few reservations about the reboot. First off, the all star cast. As impressive as the lineup was, I worried that the famous voice actors would take away from the characters themselves. I’ve known these characters my entire life, I couldn’t bear to see anyone mess them up.

Secondly, I was concerned about the animation. I’ve never been a fan of movies that featured lifelike animals talking. I’ve never seen a movie where the movement of the animals mouth looked natural. So, with this being a movie of entirely CGI animals I prayed they wouldn’t mess that up.

And y’all, they didn’t. Like, at all.

I don’t say this lightly, but The Lion King reboot is one of (if not the) most beautiful pieces of CGI movie magic I have ever seen.

I just can’t say enough about this movie. I have zero complaints. My concerns were obliterated within the first ten minutes of the movie.

The movie almost mirrors the original. And if you’re someone like me who is extremely familiar with the original version, you will greatly appreciate that. The movie opens with a new version of “Circle of Life” by Lindiwe Mkhize and Lebo M. that is a perfect homage to the classic. I still got the goosebumps that I always get when listening to this song. In fact, the entire soundtrack is beautifully classic while also giving a unique spin on these familiar songs.

Even though the soundtrack features many famous and accomplished musicians, it didn’t feel like a cover album at all. Even though I knew I was listening to Beyonce and Childish Gambino, not once during “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” was I taken out of the moment by the familiarity of their voices.

That goes for the entire movie. We all know this movie is chalk full of famous voices. Beyonce, Donald Glover, and Seth Rogen, are just a few of the celebrities who lend their voices to this film. Like I said before, this was a bit of a concern for me. I worried I wouldn’t be able to get past the fact that Nala’s voice was the same voice who sang “I got hot sauce in my bag, swag.” I didn’t want the characters to loose their authenticity because their new voice actors had familiar voices from other projects. Well rest assured, the new voices matched the characters perfectly! I felt like the characters new voices didn’t take away from what I had known for so many years. In fact, I thought Billy Eichner and Seth Rogan did a fantastic job as Timon and Pumba!

Also, thanks Disney for not trying to replace James Earl Jones as Mufasa. No one else is Mufasa. Period.

As far as the CGI goes for this movie? Next. Level. I’m serious, you guys. You have not seen anything like this before. Nothing like this exists. Remember how we all felt the first time we watched Avatar? I felt that way watching The Lion King because the effects are that good.

Disney is doing something with The Lion King that has never been done before. They gave animals facial expressions in the most natural way I have ever seen before. I can’t get over how flawless it was. How flawless it all was. The animals moved naturally. The water moved naturally. Every tree, animal, bug, and rock all looked so freaking real. At times, I forgot I was even watching CGI. It felt like I was watching Planet Earth or some Disneynature movie. It’s out of this world, folks.

To sum this all up, The Lion King was a major win for me! I give it five stars and then some! Have you seen The Lion King yet? Let me know what you thought about the movie!

Until next time, folks!

How to Be More Productive

How to Be More Productive

I’m going to be really honest with you all for a moment: I never thought I’d be giving advice on how to be more productive. Historically, I have been known to be a professional procrastinator. I get distracted very easily and tend to avoid doing tasks that are less fun until I have absolutely no choice but to get them done.  

While this might have worked for me a few years ago when I had few responsibilities, today my life is much different. My daily routine has become more demanding and my work and social calendars compete to take up every second of my life. Before you say it, I promise I’m not complaining one bit. You know me and I love to be constantly on the go! Well, I love it now because I can handle it better now than I ever could before.

I used to get overwhelmed extremely easily. If something popped up in my day that was out of the norm, it would throw my entire flow off and I’d be frazzled. Don’t get me wrong, I still have my days where I just can’t seem to get it together. However, I’ve learned to manage those days better and create habits that help me to start off right and carry that energy through the entire day.

Wake the hell up.

In the morning, I mean. Look, I know what you’re thinking because I thought it too! It’s so easy to just hit the snooze in the morning and get those eight extra minutes of sleep (side-note: why is it 8 minutes? Is there some sort of science behind that? I need answers.) 

Here’s how my mornings used to go. I set my alarm for 6:15 AM, but I never got out of bed at that time. I would hit the snooze once, twice, sometimes even three times before I would roll out of my comfy sheets and start putting myself together. If each snooze session is roughly 8 minutes long (for whatever reason) that’s 21 minutes of extra sleep I’d get in the morning. It’s also 21 minutes of my day that I wasted by not waking up when I should have!

I’m not saying you need to hop out of bed the second your alarm goes off and start saving the world. You need a few minutes to come out of dreamland and bounce back to reality. I get it. However, can you imagine the little things you could accomplish if you had an extra 20 minutes a day? Maybe you could actually make a healthy smoothie in the morning, instead of grabbing a Poptart on your way out of the house. Maybe you could do some light yoga to get your day started? Either way, getting out of bed the first time your alarm goes off can get your day started quicker and give you more time to get little tasks done.

Dress intentionally.

My typical work attire is whatever is clean, comfy, and readily available when I zombie walk over to my closet every morning. Most offices in today’s society are much more casual than they were in the past. There was a time where a businessman wouldn’t be caught dead in their office without a full suit and tie on. And businesswomen? Forget about it. Not only were we expected to wear business skirt sets and heels, a full face of makeup and hair precisely styled were practically mandatory. 

Thankfully, those days are long gone. Today, a lot of people work from home and never have to see anyone, so those people can work naked for all anyone cares. Then there are folks like me, who still have to report to a building to work but aren’t required to dress to the nines. Jeans and a t-shirt are about as formal as it gets in my office. But I’ve noticed that the days I dress up, even just a little bit, I feel better and am much more productive. 

According to Forbes, there’s definitely some truth to the theory that what you wear while working affects productivity. However, the type of clothing doesn’t seem to have the same productive effect on everyone. For example, Mark Zuckerburg wears the same plain, casual clothes to work every single day. He says that dressing down helps him to focus on the important stuff, therefore being more productive. On the other hand, digital marketing entrepreneur Tim Kitchen insists on wearing professional clothing even when he works from home. He says that he feels more professional when wearing professional clothing, therefore more productive and able to focus on work easier. 

That’s why this tip is titled “dress intentionally” and not “dress professionally.” For me, putting a little thought into my outfit or doing my hair or makeup before work makes me feel better and work better at work. This is a pattern I have noticed in myself, and have begun to take advantage of. However, this might not work for you! You might work best when you’re comfortable in yoga pants and a huge t-shirt. You might work best wearing a suit and tie. The way you dress as it correlates to your work is entirely subjective. Figure out what to wear that will make you feel and work your best, and then go with that!

Take a damn break.

If you just gasped at this tip, you’re exactly the type of person that needs to hear what I’m about to say. Take a break. As easy as it can be some days to just sit at your desk for 8 hours straight without getting up, you’re doing much more harm than good. As humans, we need a little stimulation to keep our minds sharp. 

I used to never take a lunch break. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t sit at my desk for 8 hours straight every day. I would get up and talk to my coworkers and of course, take mini social media breaks as we all do (don’t lie to yourself.) But for the most part, I was in my office staring at my computer from 8 AM until 5 PM. I started taking breaks that took me outside of the office. I would go home for lunch or go for a walk around the mall. I just needed a break from the routine, and guess what? It helps me so much.

I can notice a tangible difference in not only my productivity but my energy levels on the days I don’t take a break versus the days I do. The days I don’t take breaks, my brain feels like mush by quitting time. Sometimes that feeling lingers into the next day, which creates a chain of weird, unproductive days. No bueno. 

If you don’t have the privilege of leaving your office at some point during the day, take a moment and go outside. Get up from your desk, and enjoy a moment in the fresh air. I promise it will make a difference in your day.

Lists, lists, lists.

Okay, so I’m just going to go ahead and admit that I know I go overboard on the whole ‘list’ thing. I constantly write lists. I mean, constantly. I have four notebooks that stay on my desk all the time with lists, notes, and ideas. I keep another notebook in my car so I can take notes when listening to podcasts (which I realize is very unsafe, thank you.) My planner is actually two planners and two calendars, one at home and one at work.  Oh, and if for whatever reason I’m away from all of those things, I have several lists in my notes on my phone.

Yeah, I know.

You don’t have to take your list-making to this extreme. This is just how I work and how I make sure I don’t miss a single thing. This process works for me, but it definitely won’t work for everyone. But, not every list taking experience needs to go quite this far. 

My list-making obsession started off as a way for me to compile my thoughts into one place. I get scatterbrained at times and would begin a project and then get sidetracked and start something else and end up not accomplishing anything. It’s also helpful for keeping track of ideas. If I hear something on the radio that strikes me or I’m dealing with a situation at work and I have a great idea, I immediately write it down. I can’t always address these ideas when they come to me, so writing them down gives me a chance to get it out of my brain and go back to it later.

Creating lists is my way of keeping myself accountable for the things I need to do. Plus, its extremely satisfying to cross tasks off a list. Try it yourself! Start keeping a small notebook with you, like these, and write down things throughout your day to help you stay on track.

Keep a schedule.

In addition to my endless lists, I have quite a few planners, schedules, and calendars that help me keep my life together. You probably already have some sort of calendar or planner situation. Most people do. Its how they utilize this resource that matters.

Most people use their calendars to keep track of holidays, birthdays, and important events. While my calendar is full of those things, it is also full of silly projects and tasks that I want to get done by certain dates. I create deadlines on myself for various tasks and goals I make. 

I keep a schedule of when and what I post on my blog. Around the holiday season, I might share a post about how to make amazing gingerbread cookies or how to keep Christmas magical into adulthood. During the summer, I might post something about how to beat the heat without breaking the bank or some of the best summertime travel destinations. These posts are all scheduled according to when I want them to go live. I write them down in advance, and make sure that they’re finished before my deadline.

I used to do this a lot when I was in college too. The first week of the semester I’d sit down with all of my syllabi and create a master personal schedule of all the assignments I needed to complete for the entire session. While this might have been a time consuming task, it made it so freaking easy to see what I needed to complete and when. I was even able to get ahead in a lot of my classes by completing multiple assignments in my schedule at a time.

Get the tough stuff out of the way first.

This is something I started doing when I began working full time in my family’s business (more on that another day.) Every day I would come into work and get started on a routine I had fallen into. I would do all the things I had to get done for the day first, and then move on to menial tasks. While this might sound like the best way to do it, I found myself neglecting those little “speed bump” tasks that pop up unexpectedly. AKA, the stuff I really didn’t want to do.

Remember when I said I was a professional procrastinator? This is what I was talking about! I would constantly put off calling a customer, checking up on something, or replying to an email because I just didn’t want to be bothered. It wasn’t something I wanted to do, therefore I waited until I had put it off for too long and was forced to confront the task.

This was getting me nowhere.

That’s when I decided I needed to change my habits. I would start my day with the annoying stuff. Once I got those little tasks out of the way, I was free to work on the everyday tasks that I had down to a science. Not only did this make me more productive, it actually made my days better because I wasn’t stressing about tasks I knew I had to do but didn’t want to do.

Keep your space organized.

If any of my coworkers are reading this they are probably laughing their ass off right now. My desk is hardly ever a tidy space. I have papers, binders, highlighters, pens, and of course all my notebooks we talked about earlier, all over the place. Sometimes I take a step back and am like, “WOW. How does anything get done here?”

But seriously, don’t you just feel better when your space is organized? Whether you work from home, have an office, or just a tiny desk among your coworkers. Your space should be tidy enough that you can work efficiently.

I recently brought a small file cabinet from home to my office. My desk doesn’t have drawers and the bookshelf I have was slowly starting to overflow with random stuff. The file cabinet gives me a place to put all my papers, binders, and highlighters. My notebooks are still on my desk for easy access in case I get a brilliant idea. The file cabinet has totally transformed my workspace and made me feel like I have more desk space to work.

Anyways, those are my few tips on how to be more productive. Now, let me know what your tips are in the comments! Until next time, folks!

Ipsy’s Glam Bag Plus is Changing the Beauty Subscription Box Game

Ipsy’s Glam Bag Plus is Changing the Beauty Subscription Box Game

In a world full of product subscription services, it’s hard to know which ones are actually worth it and which ones just suck.

I have been subscribed to Ipsy for about three years. Yeah. Time somehow got away from me, and suddenly I realized I wasn’t getting much out of the service anymore. I don’t particularly like getting a makeup bag every single month. I feel like its a waste. I don’t need twelve mini makeup bags, and if you multiply that by 3 years, it becomes excessive. I’d be fine with them just sending me the samples in the iconic pink envelope. I also felt like I was getting a lot of the same stuff (even though I review my bag every month to update my interests), which means I had/have samples, and samples of products piling up not being used.

To be clear, I don’t dislike Ipsy in the least. In fact, I still think it’s one of the best beauty product subscriptions services out there. For $10 a month, you really can’t beat it.

However, the subscription box industry is still fairly new and one issue I think they’ll have is how to retain their customers. There are so many different options out there, and as a consumer, I like to sample a little bit of everything. I might subscribe to Birchbox for a few months, then hop on over to Play! by Sephora, and then to Target’s Beauty Box. Each company offers different products and benefits, so it’s nice to shop around and see which one is the best.

I’m going to be really honest, I wanted to cancel my Ipsy subscription. I had done a bit of research and was ready to try out a different beauty box when I got an email inviting me to try out their new Glam Bag Plus. For $25 a month, Ipsy will send you five full-sized products in a pink box (I feel like they should call it Glam Box Plus? No?) I decided to upgrade my subscription for the time being and see what this new service was all about.

I got my box over the weekend and was pleasantly surprised. My box included a vial of Go-To Face Hero oil, Il Makiage mascara, EAU THERMALE AVÈNE moisturizing mask, Yensa primer, and a Wander Beauty eye shadow palette. And they were all full-sized products, as promised.

Each product I received was definitely great quality. The Il Makiage mascara has so far been my favorite. I’m super picky about my mascara brush. I don’t even know how to explain what kind of mascara brush I prefer, I just know it when I see it. Well, lemme tell ya. This mascara brush is IT. It perfectly separates and elongates my lashes. None of that clumpy mess that we all know too well.

And the best part? The retail price. Actually, the retail prices of all of these products are the best part. Each product in the box retailed for roughly $25 each. So basically the entire box was worth around $100-125, and I got it for $25. Crazy, right?

I mean, the face mask retails for $34 regularly! What even!

So far, my experience with Ipsy Glam Bag (Box) Plus has been great. I’m definitely going to continue the subscription for a few months to see how the boxes progress. The only product I’ve really gotten a feel for is the mascara, but I’m planning on using the rest this coming week to update you all on the quality.

Have you tried Ipsy Glam Bag Plus? What is your experience? Is there another subscription service you have that you just LOVE?

Let me know in the comments!

New Year, Better Me

New Year, Better Me

I unintentionally took a few weeks off of writing because the holidays and wedding planning and life, in general, demanded more time than I could really give it. Something had to give, and unfortunately, it was this blog. But I am back and determined to continue writing and sharing experiences with whoever will listen.

As the first post of the year, I would like to explain what it means to me to live unapologetically. When I started this blog just a few months ago, my goal was to create a platform to express myself fully and without judgment. While there will always be negative people judging your every move, my goal is to stop concerning myself with their opinions. This blog is a personal journey that I want to share with the world in hopes of encouraging others to embrace and love who they really are.

The word “unapologetically” has been my favorite word for some time now. I have no idea where I first heard it or in what context, but I know it struck a chord with me and has been echoing in my mind ever since. By definition, “unapologetically” means to not acknowledge or express regret. Many confuse unapologetic behavior and mindset as someone who doesn’t take responsibility for their actions. This is absolutely not what I stand for. To me, being unapologetic means that you are wholly yourself without apologies or excuses. You love what you love, and you are not afraid to express that. You don’t change who you are to fit some unrealistic mold of who society thinks you should be. You are your own mold. You live your life for yourself and make the best decisions for your life based on your own knowledge and intuition, rather than the opinions of others.

Sounds easy enough, right?

Well, it’s not.

It has taken me years to be comfortable in my own skin, and I still have some work to do. I’ve always been a bit of a “fangirl.” Meaning, the stuff I like, I really like and get downright giddy about it. My biggest vice: anything and everything Disney. I have loved Disney movies since I was a child. My late grandmother used to always laugh about when I was about three years old I asked her to play The Lion King over, and over, and over all day long. When I was six years old, I went to Walt Disney World for the first time and thus began a love affair with Disney Parks. The rest is a magical history of yearly vacations to the happiest place on earth, and a lifetime of Disney trips with my soon-to-be husband.

But, it wasn’t always magical. When you’re in elementary school everyone loves Disney. When your peers find out your family vacations there often they are in awe and jealous of your privilege. It’s totally normal and acceptable to love Disney when you’re in elementary school, but something odd happens when you enter middle school. Suddenly, my peers weren’t eager to discuss the latest Disney/Pixar movie or appreciate my Mickey Mouse shirts. Everyone was “too cool” for the things they used to enjoy just the previous year. It was around this time that I began to struggle a lot with the way others perceived me. I loved Disney and that wasn’t going to change, but I no longer discussed it as freely as I once did.

This continued into high school. Only my close friends really knew about my “Disney side.” Too many people had patronized me or flat out made fun of me for loving Disney, and it became something I found myself apologizing about constantly. I even stopped telling people where I was going when I went to Disney. It was just a “family vacation.” I was constantly making excuses for why my family enjoyed vacationing there so often and explaining that no, we don’t get tired of it. Trust me, I’ve heard it all: “Don’t you ever want to vacation somewhere else?”, “Do your parents work for Disney or something?”, and my personal favorite “Isn’t that for kids?”

We did vacation other places, we just loved our yearly Disney trips. It was our family’s tradition.

No, my parents didn’t work for Disney. They were just really good at getting insane deals on hotels and park tickets.

And if you truly think Disney Parks are just for kids, you probably haven’t been there yourself.

These are just a few of the rebuttals I would use against people who questioned this thing that I liked. Most people would just politely smile and move on, which was and is extremely patronizing. Some would question more and insist we must be crazy or immature. Both reactions over time caused me to not share as much of my love for Disney with strangers.

It caused me to not share a vital part of who I am with others.

As I got older, I began to care less. Disney was something that made me happy. It was positive and didn’t hurt anyone, so why did it matter so much what others thought? In the past few years, I have begun actively embracing who I am, including my Disney side. I started to realize that the people I was trying to impress wasn’t actually the type of person I wanted to be. You shouldn’t have to change or suppress a single aspect of who you are for someone else to like you.

Going into 2019, I encourage everyone to wholly embrace themselves for who they really are. As many of you know, the end of last year was not easy for me personally. And I know last year was difficult for many people. As cliche as it sounds, a new year is a new opportunity. So why not use this new start as a chance to start loving yourself more?

I am determined to make the most of whatever 2019 has to offer me.

An Adoption Story: Tito the Mexican

An Adoption Story: Tito the Mexican

2018 continues to challenge us in some of the most difficult ways. I had this post planned well before Tito’s unfortunate and unexpected passing on December 15th. Along with our cat Tater Tot, Tito’s adoption story is unique and one I feel should be told. Given recent circumstances, I feel like this post is more relevant now than ever before.

Tito was extremely shy at first. This was the most we could get him to do for the longest time!

Early 2017, I was itching for a new pet. We already had our cat, Teddy, but I was desperately wanting something smaller. I had become obsessed with hedgehogs and began researching them nonstop to determine if this type of animal would be a good addition to our family.

For anyone who is not familiar, hedgehogs are small spiny mammals in the Erinaceidae family. They have spikes all over their backs that are used as defense out in the wild. Unlike porcupines (which everyone confuses them with), hedgehogs cannot shoot out their spikes and they don’t come out and stick into predators that challenge them.

Another huge misconception, hedgehogs are NOT rodents! Rodents (like rabbits and mice) have teeth that continuously grow. They chew on hard surfaces to shave down their teeth. Hedgehogs are like humans, the teeth they get are the only set they’ll ever have. And ask my fiancé, their teeth are sharp!

Tito fresh out of the bath looking extra cute!

I learned a lot about hedgehogs before I decided to take the leap and get one. My fiancé and I talked about it for a while. He was originally opposed to the idea. He loved Teddy but wasn’t crazy about adding another responsibility to our life. After much discussing and convincing, on Valentine’s Day my fiancé gave me a card and inside it said: “Okay, let’s get a hedgehog.”

I was elated! I immediately began searching the internet for places I could get a hedgehog. There are several breeders in my area, but a lot of them had a waiting list. I then took it to Craigslist. I know what you’re thinking, and you’re right. Craigslist isn’t the best place to find a pet. Before you start, I already had a terrible experience with Craigslist pets’ pages before and will tell you all about that another day. Despite having bad experiences in the past, I can’t help but feel bad for the pets listed on Craigslist. Those animals need saving too!

After many weeks of scouring the internet for hedgehogs, I finally found an ad on Craigslist for 2 1/2-year-old hedgehog two hours away. I decided to take a chance on Craigslist and arrange to meet this person. My fiancé and I got in the car one day after work and drove two hours one way to where Tito was living.

To say that we were in the middle of nowhere is an understatement.

Fun fact: This little chair was made specifically for hedgehogs. I got it on Amazon!

We finally pulled up to the house and noticed several dogs running around kids playing in the front yard. I won’t lie to you, it was definitely sketchy. As we walked up to the door, we saw they had two horses in the worlds smallest pen in their backyard. It was sad.

We walked into their porch and Tito was in a small cage on the ground next to a cage full of baby ducks. He had a small plastic house, food bowl, and water feeder. My fiancé said before we walked into the house that if the hedgehog bit him more than five times, we shouldn’t get him. I have no idea why he decided on that particular stipulation, but that was it.

Tito’s original owner led me to his cage and let me hold him. He was very skittish. He balled himself up and did not want to come out. Eventually, he stuck his little nose out and started smelling my hands. Hedgehogs naturally have horrible vision and rely heavily on their sense of smell and taste. He licked and smelled my hands for a bit and then I passed him over to my fiancé. Almost immediately, he bit my fiancé. And then he bit him again, three more times. I took Tito back from my fiancé because I knew we needed to take him home with us. This environment wasn’t a good place to determine Tito’s personality. He was scared and there were several people around and animals. There was just too much going on for him to be comfortable.

We agreed to take Tito and loaded him up in our car. On our way out, Tito’s original owner asked us if we wanted their boa constrictor as well. We politely declined. We love animals, but I draw the line at snakes and spiders.

We began our two-hour ride back home with our new pet tucked away in the backseat. It took Tito a few days to warm up to us. If I’m being honest, I was a little disappointed at first. He was extremely cautious of us and hated being held. He would roll up into a ball and make a hissing noise any time anyone came near him. I worried for a while that he would never warm up to us.

Over the next few months, we worked very hard to socialize Tito more. We got him a ball, so he could run around our house without getting stuck under anything. He loved roaming around our home. I now understand why Sonic the Hedgehog was so fast because real hedgehogs are surprisingly fast for how small they are! We also got him a bigger multi-level cage. The cage he had was small and rusty. His new cage was twice the size, big enough to hold his new running wheel we got him. And he loved running on his wheel. Every single night once the sun went down (hedgehogs are nocturnal), we would hear him start his nightly workout on the wheel. The clicking noise of his wheel could be heard all over our small little home. It was comforting to hear him being active.

Our sweet little family! This was shortly after we got Tito and he began to be more social.

Soon, Tito became the sweetest little pet I could have asked for. I strongly believe Tito just needed someone to love him and spend time with him to come out of his shell. He even got along well with our cat Teddy. In fact, Teddy adored little Tito! I used to joke that Teddy thought Tito was his pet. He would sit outside his cage and just watch him eating or running. And Tito never minded. Of all the things he feared when we first got him, he was never scared of Teddy. He would run right for him, leaving Teddy unaware of what to do. He knew he couldn’t “boop” him, he learned that very fast. So, he would just jump out of his way and then lay back down next to him.

The few weeks before Tito passed, I was bragging on him so much. He was acting so much more social than ever before. One night after work, I took him out of his cage and he just sat on my shoulder while I did a few things around the house. Not once did he roll into a ball. He let me pet him and rub his tummy. He licked my fingers and my face and was just so sweet.

Maybe he knew his time was limited and wanted to leave us with another great memory of him. Whatever the reason, I’m forever thankful that we had a few years with Tito. Believe it or not, he taught me a lot. His standoffish personality in the beginning (coupled with the obvious obstacle of his sharp spikes) caused me to question if I had made the right decision. However, I wouldn’t let myself give up on him. And I’m so glad I didn’t. His personality did a complete transformation while he lived with us and I could tell he was a much happier creature.

We’ve decided to not get another caged animal for the time being. Tito’s cage and wheel are still in great condition and I’ll be donating them to a small animal rescue along with his uneaten mealworms and dried fruit. I already miss him more than I really thought I would have. But I take comfort knowing that he’s with my grandma in heaven somewhere.

Like my mom said, “Grandma needed a pet, and Tito needed to rest.”

An Adoption Story: Tater Tot

I’m an animal person through and through. Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve had a soft spot in my heart for furry friends. I was constantly bringing home cats and dogs and begging my parents to let me keep them. No matter how many times my parents told me to stop bringing home strays, I just couldn’t say no to a creature in need.

As an adult, not much has changed. Instead of my parents telling me to stop bringing home strays, my fiance rolls his eyes and looks the other way until I can rehome my latest rescue. However, I do get to keep a few for myself. We have two cats and a hedgehog. They all have interesting adoption stories, but our newest addition is my favorite.

My fiance and I had been casually talking about getting another pet. He really wanted to adopt a dog, but I knew I wanted another cat. We live in a condo and we both agreed that we would rather have a dog when we have a house with a yard. But, if we fell in love with a dog during our search for a new family member we wouldn’t rule anything out.

I knew I wanted another cat. Our cat, Teddy, loved playing with my moms cat and other cats we had temporarily homed since we had him. My fiance wasn’t sold on the idea of another cat but agreed to keep all options open.

We spent most of the Saturday before Easter at various shelters and adoption fairs in town seeing if we connected with any animals. I knew that whatever pet we got next, I wanted to consider older or disabled options first. These animals don’t get adopted as easily and often spend much of their lives in shelters waiting for someone to give them a chance. I was in a place where I knew I could care for a pet with more specific needs and I was willing to take on that responsibility.

However, our newest addition needed to fit in with our existing pets, specifically Teddy. He tends to dislike animals significantly larger than himself, so we’d have to consider that in our decision. Most of the older and/or disabled animals needed to be the only pet or couldn’t be in a home with another cat. We met so many animals, but no one really stood out to us.

We saw a group of people crowded around a small cage. We walked over to see what all the fuss was about. Inside the cage was a small Australian Shepard puppy. She had beautiful blue eyes and brown freckles all over her coat. She would lick anyone’s fingers that came up to the cage and looked like she could bust out any minute to play. She was up for adoption and was getting a lot of attention for obvious reasons.

My fiance and I stopped at the cage to admire the puppy. He instantly fell in love. We sat and played with the puppy for a few minutes and discussed adoption. We decided to take the plunge and apply to adopt the puppy. When I asked the foster parent about the puppy, she said we were welcome to apply but eight people had already applied and applications would be reviewed first come first serve. My heart sank a little but we applied anyways, just in case.

My fiance and I decided to continue looking the next day. After Easter brunch, we stopped by our local Petsmart. We walked over to where the cats were for adoption and started playing with them.

Tater Tot’s bio was featured in a local pet adoption magazine!

In the bottom cage closest to the wall was a small white and black kitten. I stooped down to get a better look and realized he had just one eye. The kitten realized someone was trying to get his attention and he attempted to get down off of the platform he was laying on. It was then I realized he had a problem with his front right leg as well. He hobbled over to me and started aggressively rubbing himself against the cage where my fingers were. This kitten just wanted to be petted! There was a larger cat in the cage that we determined was his mother. She laid there watching while her baby played with the new strangers.

At this point, I knew I wanted this kitten. He was so sweet and playful and I just felt like he would make a perfect addition to our little family. The adoption team wouldn’t be there for another hour, so we decided to run a few errands and come back.

When we came back we went straight to the cat room. There was a little girl, maybe twelve, in the room playing with cats in another cage. I had been messaging the adoption team to make sure that they would be coming today with it being a holiday. They said they would be so we decided to wait. I sat on the floor and continued to play with the little black and white kitten.

The girl’s mom came into the room and I could hear them having a heated discussion. “Why did you move? You should have just sat there next to the kitten until the people came.” The little girl was panicking and just kept saying, “I don’t know. I’m sorry!”

I tuned into this conversation because I knew what they were talking about. The mom asked me, “Are you trying to adopt that kitten? The one with just one eye?” I said yes. She explained to me that they had been waiting since eleven o’clock this morning to adopt the kitten. They had a cart full of new kitten supplies.

My heart really sank this time.

I got up off the floor and told the family that I didn’t mind if they adopted the kitten. I already had a cat, and I wasn’t going to ruin this little girls day. The mother and little girl thanked me several times, and I tried to get out of there as fast as possible.

I knew I had done the right thing, but I was so disappointed.

I was crying before I even reached our car. I’m an emotional person, and sometimes I just need to let it out so I can feel better. My fiance tried to comfort me by telling me I had done the right thing and that little girl was going to be so happy with her new kitten. I knew that, of course. But I needed some time to just be sad about it. I had my heart set on that kitten so quickly, I couldn’t believe this had happened. I knew everything would be okay.

I messaged the adoption team to let them know that if for some reason that family couldn’t adopt the kitten that I was very interested. Two hours later I got a reply. They wanted to know if I had any other pets. I told them I had a cat and a hedgehog. They told me that the family was unable to adopt the kitten because they had a young dog. This kitten needed to be in a home with another cat, at least until he was older and could fend for himself.

We jumped in the car and raced back to Petsmart. As we were walking up to the cat adoptions I noticed that family was still there. I was immediately anxious. How would this family react? They were so set on this kitten and now they can’t have him. I did NOT want to make a little girl cry over a kitten on Easter.

“OH MY GOSH, YAY!” The mother flung herself on me. She was practically in tears. “When they told us we couldn’t adopt him I immediately thought of you and felt so bad! I can’t believe you came back! I’m so happy!”

I explained to her that I had been messaging the adoption team all morning about him and when they told me her family wasn’t eligible for adoption, I rushed back over. Turns out, one of the adoption volunteers that came to work that shift brought in a few kittens she was fostering. The little girl ended up adopting one of those kittens and I ended up with the small black and white kitten.

We brought him home and decided to name him Tater Tot. And boy, am I glad we ended up with him! Tater Tot is exactly what our little family needed. It only took Tater and Teddy a few days to warm up to each other and now they are practically inseparable. Tater is the most affectionate cat I have ever met. It’s almost like he’s thanking us every day for adopting him with his still aggressive rubs and headbutts.

My pets truly are my family and I enjoy sharing these little stories about them. But that’s probably obvious at this point. I mean, my cats have an Instagram. Please share with me your fur babies adoption stories or any other fun story you might have!