Design, Food, Pets, Health, Technology... Life Untangled Mon, 30 Nov 2015 17:02:23 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Quick DIY Christmas Decorating Ideas Mon, 30 Nov 2015 16:01:24 +0000
Quick Holiday DIY Decorating Ideas
This holiday season is busier than most at my house and with so many things to do at this time of year, it's nice to find some shortcuts. Here are a few of my favorite easy DIY decorating ideas including one of my own!]]>
This holiday season is busier than most at my house. We’ve just moved, and there are boxes everywhere. While ordinarily I would be looking for all sorts of new ornaments to share with you (and to end up buying to trim my tree), decorating a Christmas tree seems unlikely this year. It is possible that we will still find the time to put up the tree, but I have been looking for other easy ways to make things festive for the holidays. With so many things to do at this time of year, it is nice to find some shortcuts.

Quick Christmas Ornament Decorations - MyUntangled Life

This year I am going to start by decorating with a few easy DIY projects that will set the mood. I will be stringing ribbon so that I can attach holiday cards as they arrive. Next, I will be setting up a display with my nutcracker and some ornaments in jars. This particular project couldn’t be more simple to do, but it has such great impact. I start with two tall, glass jars. Then I fill them with varying sizes and colors of glass ornaments. For the ones pictured, I have used silver, red, and some with glitter. The ornaments don’t have to be expensive–some of these came from the $1 section at Target–just varied enough to complement one another. I carefully layer the ornaments to make sure the smaller ones fill the gaps left by the larger ones, and that the colors are evenly dispersed. Once I am satisfied with the overall look, I place them on a mantel or shelf and enjoy.

Over the last couple years I have noticed more and more ideas for tree alternatives or full-of-cheer decorating for small spaces. Here are a few of my other favorites that I might try this year:

Full of Cheer Decorating Ideas - MyUntangled Life

  1. Tree made of strung lights (IKEA via Design Sponge)
  2. Framed ornaments (from Dans le Lakehouse)
  3. An understated mantel (from Real Simple)
  4. DIY Makeshift Tree Wall Hanging (from Almost Makes Perfect)
  5. Ornament chandelier (from Real Simple)
  6. A second version of the string of lights tree (from Domino via Apartment Therapy)

For more ideas, see my Holiday Decorating board on Pinterest.

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Ruby’s 2015 Thanksgiving Haiku Tue, 24 Nov 2015 21:36:14 +0000
Ruby's 2015 Thanksgiving Haiku
As autumn delivers crisp air and fallen leaves, let Ruby's Thanksgiving haiku warm your heart, lift your spirits, and bring gratitude your way. All of your MyUntangled friends wish you and yours a Happy Thanksgiving!]]>
Thankful ones gather
Love leaves its warm impression
All year we hold dear

Happy MyUntangled Thanksgiving 2015

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Gifts for Pets and Pet Lovers Sun, 22 Nov 2015 20:07:41 +0000
The Bloggin' Dog's Gifts for Pets and Pet Lovers
Are you making your list and checking it twice? We've gathered our favorite gifts for pets and pet lovers so you'll be able to buy the perfect present for all the animals and animal lovers on your list.]]>
‘Tis the season to be making that list and checking it twice. I’ll admit that sometimes I’m naughty, but most times I’m nice. So nice, in fact, that I’ve compiled a list of gifts especially for pets and pet lovers. Your days will be merry and bright when you warm the hearts of animals and animal lovers this holiday season.

Without further ado, let’s check out my favorite gifts for pets and pet lovers!


Sweet Potato Chips
I’m barking mad for Barkworthies thick-cut Sweet Potato Chips! Sweet potatoes are a delicious and nutritious snack for canines. They’re packed with vitamin A, B6 and C, plus minerals manganese, iron, potassium, fiber, and zinc. Talk about a nutritional overachiever! They’re also a high source of calcium and fight the effects of aging. That makes them a great choice for puppies and seniors alike. These tasty chips are natural dental aids; their chewy texture aids in tartar and plaque removal. Oh, they’re vegetarian and vegan friendly, too.
Canines for Veterans Gift Bucket
Canines for Veterans Gift Bucket is the gift that just keeps on giving. First, your favorite pooch is going to enjoy a bucket complete with Canines for Veterans peanut butter treats, Canines for Veterans Play Balls, and a red, white and blue cotton rope toy. Yankee doodle dandy, indeed! Next, a portion of the proceeds from sales goes to Canines for Veterans, a program that provides service dogs to veterans. That’s a win-win situation in my book.
Jolly Roger Martingale Collar
Yer not still usin’ a homemade collar arrr ye, matey? Blasted landlubber! Houndstown creates some pretty cool martingale and buckle collars, leashes, and other custom dog accessories such as the Jolly Roger (pictured). Plus, they make all their homemade products in my home state of North Carolina. Ahoy, neighbor!
Barkworthies Antler Chews
Lions, and tigers, and antlers, oh my! Well, okay, lions and tigers don’t really have antlers, but elk and moose do. And they naturally shed those antlers every year. Antlers just happen to make great eco- and animal-friendly dog chews. The hard exterior is good for chewing while the soft interior has beneficial nutrients. Pick up some drool-worthy antler chews for all the rein-dogs on your list. I sleigh me.


One Way Mirror Birdfeeder
The one-way-mirror bird feeder kills two birds with one stone. Hmm, I guess that’s a crappy metaphor for a post on gifts for pets and pet lovers, but it seemed to fit. Birds can see their own reflection as they dine on seed, but they can’t see your feline friends slowly going mad. Better luck next time, you silly kitty. This gift truly is  for the birds!

Birds of a Sweater

Here kitty, kitty. Now, these are some birds you can actually catch! Birds of a sweater are eco-friendly toys that are purrfect for the kitties on your list! They’re handmade from upcycled sweaters, stuffed with eco-fiber, and contain organic catnip. Enjoy your catnip-induced holidaze, my feline friends.

Cats Galore Shopping Tote

These shopping bags are totes adorbs! The cats galore design will appeal to many crazy cat ladies pet enthusiasts. Reusable and portable, these totes will come in handy on any shopping excursion. An added bonus is that a portion of every purchase from the Animal Rescue site funds food and care for rescued animals.

Please Don't Torment Tootsie

Little Parachutes has a collection of children’s books on owning a pet. The picture books help children learn about the responsibilities of pet ownership. We all know kids love pets, and these books help them love their pets in the best possible way. Plus, reading with the kiddos in your life can be a fun and bonding experience. Come to think of it, this collection may not be just for kids. Please don’t torment Tootsie should be required reading for some dogs I know.

Other Ideas

The Mutts Winter Diaries is a recently released collection of comic strips from It would make a great gift for readers both young and old. The Mountain has an awesome line of Dean Russo rescue pet t-shirts with a portion of every purchase supporting animal welfare. Of course, local shelters, like ours, are always taking donations. Think about making a donation in honor of the animal lover on your list. And, lastly, the best thing you could give a shelter pet is a home. Perhaps there’s room in your home for a new friend. Happy Howlidays, y’all!

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Monkeying Around with MailChimp Mon, 02 Nov 2015 00:04:14 +0000
A few little tweaks under the cage and a little bit of planning can turn your blog content into an email marketing campaign you'll go ape over!! Check out how we're doing it.]]>
First Comes the Blog

Let’s face it, this whole blogging thing is here to stay… and I couldn’t be happier! I still love reading blogs and in my daily travels across the information highway, I come across all different kinds of styles and flavors of writing and topics. I still can’t believe how much stuff there is out there, and how many really talented people there are, doing amazing work. They also provide me endless chances to look at photos of dogs.

I also love working on blogs. Designing, coding, writing, you name it. It’s a constant learning experience that lets me be simultaneously creative AND dorky. The core challenge in building a really high quality blog is that you not only have to build a really high quality blog, you also need to build your audience, and make sure folks have lots of different ways to be notified about all your good content. The default WordPress install loads several different feed options for syndicating content. Probably the most widely used is RSS. Interestingly enough, I feel like RSS has always been widely underused.

Feedburner email options

Like most WordPress bloggers, I started out by running the RSS to email feed for through FeedBurner. I put a feed icon and a sign-up box in the sidebar, patted myself on the back for a job well done and called it a day. That definitely gets the job done in terms of syndicating and managing the feed, but let’s be honest… by default this option is U.G.L.Y for sending out email updates. It also doesn’t give proper attribution to the authors, there aren’t very many configuration or segmenting options, and it certainly doesn’t convey the look and feel of your blog. In other words, I hate everything about it.

I realized early on that what I really wanted for this blog was more of a newsletter, a SUPERnewsletter! My criteria was simple, I just wanted something that would:

  • auto-populate via single or multiple RSS feeds when new posts were added,
  • auto-email on a daily, weekly or monthly basis,
  • allow us to segment feeds and mailing lists,
  • give authors their proper shout-outs and branding,
  • incorporate the overall look and feel of the blog,
  • add some social networking, related posts, and other blog bling.

Enter Mailchimp RSS to Email Campaigns

Mailchimp RSS to EmailMailChimp RSS to Email and MyUntangled Life campaigns can do all of this and so much more. The default options are easy to setup and an improvement alone, but I wanted images, the featured images, to be exact! WordPress Post Thumbnails open up a new way to have fun with your MailChimp campaigns and MailChimp gives you an option to use the merge tag *|RSSITEM:IMAGE|*, but I really wanted the images to show in the feed itself as well. A great little piece of code from Digging into WordPress adds this function and just like that, you’ve given your feed some syndication bling!

// show post thumbnails in feeds
function diw_post_thumbnail_feeds($content) {
	global $post;
	if(has_post_thumbnail($post->ID)) {
		$content = '<div>' . get_the_post_thumbnail($post->ID) . '</div>' . $content;
	return $content;
add_filter('the_excerpt_rss', 'diw_post_thumbnail_feeds');
add_filter('the_content_feed', 'diw_post_thumbnail_feeds');

I didn’t want to send out full posts in our emails, but I’m a control freak and auto-truncating post summaries mid-word with an […], and such, makes me twitch and doesn’t make for very compelling copy! I also knew we’d have posts that don’t always contain a lot of text, (like, I don’t know, perhaps an occasional haiku from the world’s greatest bloggin’ dog.). So another little tweak for a better MailChimp campaign involves the use of the WordPress excerpt. Manually populating the excerpt for each post allows us to pull a custom and complete summary for our homepage. Use it in combination with the MailChimp *|RSSITEM:CONTENT|* merge tag and you’ve got yourself the beginnings of a really nice looking blog newsletter!

Even More to Go Bananas Over

Once you’ve got the basic setup and styling down, start digging into Mailchimp segmentation and other functions. Maybe you want to give foodies the chance to sign up for foodie-only blog posts and recipes, or maybe we’ve got some folks who don’t want to read this type of pseudo-geeky stuff! Wait, what?! You can build on this existing infrastructure by creating category or author based feeds, combined with conditional merge tags and now you’re talking! Throw in a mashup of recent posts from related feeds, or the latest from your facebook wall or twitter feed and WOWEE you’ve got a lot more than just an email with a link to a blog post going out to the world…automatically!

A few little tweaks under the cage and a little bit of planning can turn your blog content into an email marketing campaign you’ll go ape over, but you don’t have to be a blogger to benefit from the MailChimp RSS to Email feature. Since almost everything is or could be syndicated, you could use this type of function to alert folks to new products via an RSS feed from your shopping cart software. Or maybe you’re a photographer; in that case, why not set up a monthly portfolio newsletter that feeds from your Flickr or Picasa account? The possibilities are endless – stop reading and start monkeying around already!!

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in 2012 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

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Ruby’s 2015 Halloween Haiku Mon, 26 Oct 2015 20:18:54 +0000
Ruby's 2015 Halloween Haiku
Our bloggin' dog mascot is raising the barre and getting a leg up on a tutu sweet 2015 Halloween haiku! Wishing y'all a Happy Howl-O-Ween from Ruby and the MyUntangled staff!]]>
Had tutu much fun

Happy MyUntangled Howl-ween!

Donning drag, crowning achieved

Happy Howl-ween from Ruby the Ballerina Dog and MyUntangled Life!

On this hallowed eve

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Quick and Easy DIY Halloween Decorations Wed, 14 Oct 2015 15:17:36 +0000
Make Your Own Halloween Decorations
Boo! I decided to make my own Halloween decorations this year with the goal of keeping them simple but different all while adhering to a not-so-scary budget. ]]>
Cheap DIY Halloween Decorations

DIY Halloween Decorations

Last year after Halloween I was at Michaels and browsed around at the crafts and decorations that were on clearance. I usually buy my holiday decorations after the holiday. This is when everything is on sale or clearance so they can push the items along and come out with new merchandise. I purchased a few things, including black frames, purple pumpkins, black and purple flowers, and a raven to make future DIY Halloween decorations. It was all very cheap, maybe $3. I had saved the receipt and put everything in storage but the ink came off the receipt so I don’t know the exact pricing.

When I opened the storage box this year I had actually forgotten what I had purchased. What a sweet, spooky surprise! I didn’t have quite enough to decorate the area I was thinking so I paid a visit to the second-hand store Savers. I found the candlestick holder, vase, candlesticks, and cobwebs there. These items totaled about $15. Not bad for a few DIY Halloween decorations to spruce up my place.

DIY Halloween Decorations - Make a Spooky Halloween Frame

When I purchased the black frames, I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with them. I searched Google using the keywords “spooky Halloween pictures”. I found the pictures that I like, printed them out, and then glued them to the back of the frames. This was such a quick, simple, and easy Halloween project.

The other easy project was taking the vase and spray painting it black. I sanded the vase down, sprayed it twice, added the flowers to it and that was that! I was also going to spray paint the candlestick holder black but I decided to leave it as is for the time being.

I put everything together and decorated the corner of my dining area. My whole idea was to keep my DIY Halloween decorations simple but different. I think my mission was accomplished!

Looking for more inspiration? Please check out our post on how to make your own Halloween spider web. And if you’d like your home to start smelling like autumn, you may want to head to the kitchen with some awesome recipes like how to bake a pumpkin, maple pumpkin pie spice pecans, pumpkin pie, and simply pumpkin bread.

Check out our Halloween Pinterest board for more great shares!

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in 2014 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

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Make Your Own Halloween Spider Web Tue, 06 Oct 2015 13:45:43 +0000
DIY Spider Web
Oh, what a tangled web we weave! Follow this step-by-step guide to creating the perfect spider web decoration for Halloween. Your house will be the coolest house on the block!]]>
What a Tangled Spider Web!

My neighbors and friends keep stopping by to ask about our new pet…Charlotte.  To be honest, I sort of winged the construction of this web when I started it on my porch last weekend.  The whole time I was thinking, I should be taking pictures because I might want to blog about this…but I wasn’t even sure how it would turn out.  Well, needless to say, we all LOVE her!

Sadly, I didn’t take any how-to pictures. This really didn’t work out for my friend, since her daughter begged her to make one at their house too. Back to the hardware store…and this time it was documented in a step-by-step guide!

Make Your Own Halloween Spider Web

Supplies to Make Your Own Halloween Spider Web

For my web I ended up using 200ft of clothes line, but here I only used 100ft. I also needed some ceiling hooks for this porch, but you may already have them for your hanging baskets.

Make Your Own Halloween Spider Web Supplies

Step-by-Step Guide to Make Your Own Halloween Spider Web


String one length of rope vertically, tying knots at both ends.

Make Your Own Halloween Spider Web - Vertical Rope

Before you tie the knots, you’ll need to burn the rope once it’s cut to prevent fraying!

Make Your Own Halloween Spider Web - Prevent Fraying


Tie another length of rope horizontally tying a knot at the center point.

Make Your Halloween Spider Web - Vertical Rope


With the remaining rope, tie another knot in the center and begin to tie tight knots as you circle around the horizontal and vertical ropes.

Tying Knots When You Make a Halloween Spider Web


Keep going and going and going! Don’t worry if it’s not perfect…spiders don’t seem to mind.

WHAT A TANGLED WEB WE WEAVE! You might want to be a little more organized with the rope when you make your own Halloween spider web, just sayin’.

DIY Halloween Spider Web in Progress


Make it as BIG as you can covering as much of the horizontal and vertical rope as possible.

DIY Big Rope Spider Web for Halloween


Let’s move on to the vertical ropes. Starting from the center loop the rope around the connections you have already made and pull tightly. Repeat on all sides!

How to Make a Halloween Rope Spider Web

Check out the difference between the knots on the horizontal and vertical connections vs. the looping on the diagonal connection. It helps give you a little wiggle room to straighten things out when you are done!

Finishing Touches on DIY Halloween Spider Web

And here is the finished product! This spider is named SofandSam and if you look closely you’ll see he even has a little lunch on his web.

DIY Make a Spider Web

Now start your weaving…and remember “You are never more than three feet away from a spider”.

For a Spooky Good Time

Please join us on our Happy Halloween Pinterest board. Also, check out some of our other Halloween posts. Be sure not to miss the popular DIY Halloween decorations. Finally, nothing says Happy Halloween like pumpkin! How to bake a pumpkin, maple pumpkin pie spice pecanspumpkin recipes to please every palate, and our pumpkin bread recipe will appeal to pumpkin lovers far and wide.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in 2011 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

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