Use Your Credit Card Directly on Etsy

pastel painting of cat on table

After Dinner Nap, pastel © B. E. Kazmarski

As an artist it’s my business to follow my muse and create what life brings to me. Click the image above to find out why Stanley is the face of  Portraits of Animals, and why this painting was important to my career as an animal artist.

As a self-employed small business owner it is my business to give you as many options and opportunities as possible to find what I create and make a purchase once you’ve decided you want something I’ve created.

Etsy, the online handmade marketplace, has made this decidedly easier for many of us so that we can spend more time doing what we do best, making stuff with their attractive interface and easy setup of accounts, shops and product displays.

Now they’ve added a new feature which not only makes transactions easier for us, but it may make many customers happy as well—you can now purchase with a credit card directly through Etsy, no PayPal involved, no redirect to your PayPal account or extra steps, so it’s quicker for you as well.

Read more at Portraits of Animals Marketplace, including a discount for purchases in April.

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And be sure to visit my Etsy shop to see what’s currently available.

All images used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used without my written permission. Please ask if you are interested in purchasing one as a print, or to use in a print or internet publication.


Living Green With Pets: Spring Cleaning

gray and white cat in bathroom

Namir wanders into the bathroom...

I’ve had more than one cat who loved the smell of bleach, but Namir really acted on his indulgence. As soon as I began to scour the tub with cleanser, he would appear on the landing outside the bathroom door, nose bobbing in the air, a faraway look in his eyes as he followed the scent and he’d hop into the tub if I didn’t stop him.

I’m sure you’ve noticed it’s darned difficult to rinse the last of the cleanser out of your tub or sink without leaving a residue, and even when I’d locked Namir out of the bathroom long enough to let the tub dry because he tried to get into the tub with the cleanser, he was in it as soon as he could get there, rolling around and breathing in the residual fumes.

It’s a wonder he lived as long as he did. But a friend apparently lost a young kitten to bleach poisoning years ago after the kitten walked across a wet floor each night where she’d used bleach water to clean and disinfect.

Pets and toxic substances

cats playing in the tub

What's this?

We’re bigger, we stand up, we don’t have our faces in the tub, the sink, the toilet (hopefully) or the floor, all these surfaces we clean with chemicals, and what barely affects us can have a profound effect on cats, dogs, bunnies, ferrets, birds and other pets. Our pets are right there, walking on the surfaces we’ve cleaned and absorbing substances into their bare paw pads and, well, bare private areas when they sit down. Their sensitive noses are breathing in the fumes, which are also drifting up into their eyes. Their bodies are smaller than ours, their organs function differently, and we need to keep this in mind when we use chemicals in our house.

Cats get an extra dose of chemicals in addition to what they absorb through their paws and skin and respiratory system because they bathe themselves, and lick any residues off their fur. When I saw a white residue dusted onto Namir’s fur and realized it was cleanser grit from the tub, I decided to change my tactics because I knew I’d never keep him 100% safe from encountering the cleanser residue, or the cleanser anywhere it could be found since it was the smell he was after.

two black cats in the tub

Mewsette and Jelly Bean grew up in the "old" bathroom.

Breaking old habits

Bleach, ammonia and pine-based cleaners have saved many lives as antiseptics and kept nasty cold and flu viruses from spreading simply by killing whatever nasty germs they touch, but much of the time they are way more than you need for everyday cleaning at home. And commercial cleaning products often contain these substances as well as other chemical ingredients used to enhance the product’s effectiveness, and commercial perfumes and dyes which can be toxic on their own.

You can safely and effectively use household products like vinegar and baking soda to do much of the work and save quite a bit of cash and even packaging, holding on to the big guns of bleaching out stains and antiseptic cleaning for spot areas instead of using them all over.

black kitten on floor

Little Jelly Bean in the old bathroom

Years ago I began fostering kittens in my bathroom because it’s the safest room for them, free of power cords on the floor, throw rugs they can get tangled in, tight spots to get lost in and things they can knock down on themselves (the lid’s been kept down on the toilet for at least 30 years for the safety of curious kittens and thirsty adult cats). Keeping chemicals and residues out of the bathroom was especially important for the little furballs.

Plus, Mr. Sunshine has taken over where Namir left off with the bleach attraction, and the Fantastic Four, all grown up now, enjoy the accommodations of the tub, and famously pose in the mint green sink, still considering the bathroom their playground.

paint in the green sink

Paint in my mint green sink.

And as an artist I tend to cover my world with art materials, with acrylic inks and paints in the bathroom sink and splashed on the walls, chalk and oil pastels mixed with oils from my fingers on light switches and door frames, ink spilled on the floor, spray adhesive in the tub and glue on a table top. As careful as I am, I only have two hands and both of them are usually covered in something, and just the regular use of these things imparts them into my workspace, which is my home. Except for occasionally spot cleaning a stain, I don’t use anything stronger than vinegar and baking soda.

Vinegar as a cleaner and antiseptic

my hand with pastels

My "painted hand' with pastels after working on an illustration.

I always keep straight white vinegar handy in a spray bottle, but you can water it down 50/50 for cleaning as well, and cider vinegar works just as well—it’s the 5% acidity that does the work. Use it as you would any “glass and all surface cleaner” to remove dirt from your windows or the glass on your pictures, clean your countertops and shine up your chrome faucets, and remove those pastel fingerprints from the doorframe.

Vinegar’s acidic nature will help to dissolve residues on faucets, sinks and tubs and fingerprints left behind by sweaty hands.

I use it to clean my picture glass when I’m framing as well, knowing that it won’t leave streaks on the glass, and it’s gentle enough to use on most frames as well.

But not just for wiping things off, I also use vinegar to clean my floors and walls and anything else I’d use a bottled cleaner for, including the parade of litterboxes, though this is one place where I follow up with a rinse of bleach (see below).

Baking soda instead of cleanser with bleach

In the kitchen where I worked as full-time cook before college, we didn’t use cleanser to clean the day’s food residues from the stainless sink and enameled countertops, we used baking soda paste, and that was my first step in cleaning the tub. Sprinkle baking soda all over the tub and scour with a damp sponge, or make a paste on the sponge and spread it over the surface, let sit on soap or residue buildup, then scour and rinse, wipe dry and buff with a towel and it looks brand new. It’s a gentle but effective abrasive that helps to dissolve substances as well as wear them away without damaging the finish.

black cat in green sink

Don't I look pretty in here?

This works in my brand new enameled tub as well as my vintage mint green ceramic sink, and my nearly prehistoric one-piece enameled sink, counter and cabinet unit in the kitchen and the unknown alloy in the post-WWII stovetop, all areas where any of my cats may walk, bathe, sleep and play (though I try to keep them off the stove).

If one of them happens to hop into the tub to play with me while I’m cleaning or on the sink to watch what I’m doing, we’re both safe from chemicals and fumes.

As a gentle and safe abrasive, baking soda can be used on all sorts of surfaces including glass, marble, finished wood, laminate countertops and composite wood surfaces and some rigid plastics, like small appliances and composite porch furniture and shelving units, though you should test a small area before you clean the whole thing. I’ve used it to clean glazed ceramic items and glass vases which have mineral residues built up from plants and cut flowers, or just years of dirt from being in storage—or even unearthed in my back yard.

Cleaning the drain

black cat in tub

Toys are better in the tub.

Between my hair, long, coarse and curly and strong as piano wire, lots of cat hair from cats playing in the tub and sink, and art materials such as excess paint, ink or adhesives, I have simply always kept after my drains or I’m unpleasantly sorry one day when I’m stuck with a mess in the sink and my hands covered with block printing ink.

Rather than the caustic substances in most drain openers, the chemical reaction between baking soda and vinegar will quickly dissolve most of what might block your drain with no harmful fumes in a neat little science experiment in your sink or tub. Vinegar is acid and baking soda is basic, and when mixed together will work very hard to neutralize each other in a fizzy battle.

At least once per month, pour about a half cup of baking soda into the drain, rinsing it lightly into the drain with a drizzle of water from the faucet, then slowly pour a pint of vinegar into the drain about a quarter cup at a time, letting it fizz up and slow down before pouring the next amount. As the vinegar works its way into the drain it will react with the baking soda, cleaning residue off the insides of the pipe and working its way through the trap. When all the vinegar is in the drain, simply let it sit and work for at least 15 minutes, or until you can’t hear any more fizzing from the drain at all. You can follow this up with a cup or two of boiling water—probably the most dangerous substance in the whole procedure—to rinse the drain of anything that might have been loosened. I have a good old hot pot upstairs to heat water for beverages and craft projects, and I doubt that I’d ever carry boiling water upstairs otherwise.

cat looking in sink

I hear something talking in the drain.

One or two of my cats always carefully observe the drain cleaning activity, squinting as the vinegar and baking soda fizzle together and glancing at me to make sure I’m paying attention to what I’m doing.

Other similar substances

You can also use regular old table salt as a mild abrasive in place of baking soda, such as cleaning pots and pans and especially cast iron. You can include vinegar in this cleaning regimen without the fizzy chemical reaction and clean mineral residues and baked on food from casseroles with either combination.

And another tip learned from my days as a cook and waitress—those Bunn carafes had openings in the top too small for anyone’s hand, but sitting all day on the burner made a mess in the bottom and even on the sides. We’d sprinkle salt into the pot and drop in three or four ice cubes, let it sit for a minute or two and swirl that around to remove all that residue with the salt as the abrasive and the ice cubes providing pressure to scrub, then swish around hot soapy water. This works for your coffee carafe as well as other containers with hard-to-reach interiors.

When to use bleach

In both cleaning and food preparation, there are times when bleach is necessary.

After cleaning the litterboxes, I always follow up with a 1:10 bleach and water solution that I mix in the box, tilt it around so it coats all the sides, then pour directly down the drain, letting the box air dry, preferably outdoors if the weather is right. I rinse the box once after this, usually adding a little vinegar to neutralize any bleach that might possibly be left behind, and make sure it’s completely dry before I sprinkle a little baking soda all over the bottom and pour the litter in. Just this little rinse with bleach can help keep internal parasites and diseases transmitted by feces especially from persisting on the surface of the box.

raw feeding cats

Kelly and Cookie with their raw venison.

If you ever work with raw meat, even organically produced meat or wild game, you should clean all surfaces and your hands afterward with an antiseptic unless you wear gloves during preparation. Because I also can and freeze foods I keep a 1:10 bleach solution in a little spray bottle under the sink (bottle “B”) so that I can spray down my utensils and work surface before I begin, and I often use it for these quick cleanups.

But I also keep a spray bottle of hydrogen peroxide under the sink (bottle “H”) to use most of the time. In this case I use hydrogen peroxide on my cutting board, knife and hands, though you need to let it sit and fizz until it’s finished to make sure it’s done its work.

And if you have a pet or a person who has a virus or contagious disease, washing your hands with soap and water and rinsing anything they use with the bleach solution such as eyedroppers, thermometers and litterboxes and even the floor around the litter box, or wiping down faucet handles or other surfaces where your hands may have transmitted the virus with the bleach solution isn’t a bad idea. Don’t ever use straight bleach in this instance, always use the bleach solution. It’s strong enough to kill the germs you need to kill, but not so strong that coming in contact with the residue or the fumes will hurt you or your pets.

Masking that vinegar scent

After a lot of years, I’m actually a little tired of the smell of vinegar, and no matter what kind you use it always smells like, well, just vinegar. I’ll sometimes follow up with a lemon juice solution to help dispel the scent, and sometimes I’ll make a pot of herbal tea to fill the air or safely burn a candle.

A few resources

You can find information on these topics just about everywhere and we know most claims are true, but I try to find actual scientific research behind the articles. Not surprisingly, government websites with post-disaster information such as FEMA and the CDC are a great resource as are cooperative extension services from state agricultural universities such as the Penn State Cooperative Extension http://extension.psu.edu/; I only note this one because it’s the one I’ve consulted for years, since I began canning and preserving food.

I had always used bleach, but only learned about the correct use of the bleach solution for cleaning after a devastating flood in my home town in 2004. Here’s a link to a page from the Centers for Disease Control that outlines uses for bleach after natural disasters and in disease control and a lot of other information: Cleaning and Sanitizing with Bleach After An Emergency, http://www.bt.cdc.gov/disasters/bleach.asp

An interesting article on Rodale.com comparing the uses of bleach and vinegar as natural disinfectants: This or That: Bleach vs. Vinegar to Kill Germs, http://www.rodale.com/natural-disinfectant

I use this site as a reference for using hydrogen peroxide (this page discusses cleaning cutting boards): http://www.using-hydrogen-peroxide.com/home-uses-for-hydrogen-peroxide.html

Pet poisoning emergencies

ASPCA Online Poison Control Center including plants, medications, cleaning products and most other toxins your pet could come in contact with: www.aspca.org/pet-care/poison-control/

Both of the hotlines below are available 24/7/365 providing live consultation for animal poison emergencies. The credit card charge covers the initial phone consultation and any follow-up consultation you or your veterinarian may need for your case. For instance, if you call and find out that the toxin your cat has come in contact with needs to be treated by a veterinarian, you can give your case number to your veterinarian and they can also call the hotline for ecommendations on treatment. There is no further charge.

ASPCA ANIMAL POISON CONTROL CENTER 888-426-4435, www.aspca.org/pet-care/poison-control/

$65 credit card charge covers the initial phone consultation and any follow-up consultation.

PET POISON HELPLINE 800-213-6680, www.petpoisonhelpline.com

Affiliated with the University of Minnesota Veterinary Medical Center, $35 credit card charge.

Other articles about “Living Green With Pets”
Living Green With Pets: Put Bird Feeders Out Now for Migrants
What Could be Greener, or….Redder?
As Natural As Possible: Outdoor Flea Control

And one more photo of the Family of Five in the tub, a real favorite.

five black cats in tub

Everybody in the Pool!

All images used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used without my written permission. Please ask if you are interested in purchasing one as a print, or to use in a print or internet publication.


Daily Sketch: Three Cats From Above

colored pencil sketch of three cats from above

Three Cats From Above, colored pencil © B.E. Kazmarski

Mimi calmly sat in the sun, Mr. Sunshine had a nice bath, and Giuseppe sat looking at them, at me, out the window, into my bedroom. I loved the arrangement of the three, each doing their own thing but being together as good friends and loving relatives can be. They were fairly content, and I had my materials in hand as I was standing there so I didn’t distract them with my own movements.

I thought I was done with the sketch when I’d done the quick studies of each of the three, then I though that what had visually tied them together for me was also the rug they were on, which is that ubiquitous pink-flowered rug we’ve seen frequently lately in sketches and photos, but I didn’t want the pattern, just the connection.

I like to get an interesting perspective on them, like looking at them from above. It’s challenging after seeing them from nearly eye level a good bit of the time when I can finish a drawing just from memory if they completely move away. Just being able to store away all these other details has caused me to study them even more closely from angles like this.

And I’ve also come to enjoy colored pencil a lot more than I ever thought I would. I actually love just drawing, making a nice expressive line on paper to try to capture the essence of a scene in the least amount of marks on paper, and will most naturally gravitate to my old ebony drawing pencils as my most familiar medium. The colored pencils are coming in a close second, even ahead of my former second favorite, the charcoal pencils. The colored pencil set in my little art bag is just a student-grade—really elementary school grade—dozen box of thick-lead pencils, just 12 colors to choose from. I have a 60-pencil set in my studio that a friend gave me when she was cleaning out her stuff. I’ll have to indulge some time.

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Unless I have linked the sketch to something else, which is rare with daily sketches, you can click the photo to see a larger version. I save them at 1000 pixels maximum dimension, and at that size the images are nearly twice the dimension and you can see more detail in many of the images I post; I hope you students do this. Please remember if you download or share, my name and the link back to the original image should always appear with it.

Click here to see other daily sketches, and for a gallery of the ones available for sale, visit my Etsy shop in the “Daily Sketches” section.

All images used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used without my written permission. Please ask if you are interested in purchasing one as a print, or to use in a print or internet publication.


Embarassing Baby Pictures

four black kittens

The Fantastic Four...at two weeks old.

Well, it’s not embarrassing, it’s really cute. They are about two weeks old here, August 10, 2007, and they were born on July 26. They’re so precious, the little fuzzballs.

I keep referencing the colors of tempera paint I dabbed on their ears to tell them apart, and how that influenced their names and readers have asked if I can somehow show this to them. I found the photo I wanted to use, then started looking at baby pictures, and…well, if you’ve ever watched a litter of kittens, or puppies or other animals or even a human grow up you know how it is when you start looking at pictures.

And then I had a difficult time deciding which one to use! So I have three, in a little series: Sleeping, Waking, and Awake. And I really can’t even tell you which is which a lot of the time unless I noted something in the file name.

four black kittens

Waking up, yawning and stretching!

Here they are yawning and stretching! You can clearly see stripes on all of them—the one in the middle has a shadow from the bar of the cage they are in because I turned on the ceiling light, but they were all fairly gray-black, lots of stripes, and lots of individual white hairs on their legs, faces and tails that disappeared in the next few weeks.

four black kittens

Awake and ready for action!

I noted a few things with this photo, but they didn’t have their permanent names yet. I do know that this kitten in front was the girl, so it is Mewsette, the first to do everything and I always remember that serious, determined expression on that tiny face! Directly behind her was Jelly Bean, and I recognize his profile, as well as some of the features of Mr. Sunshine’s face behind him. The lazy bum is Giuseppe, who always woke up last with great fanfare—unless one of the others landed on him and started wrestling!

As you can imagine, I have a zillion photos of them, but most of the good ones are on film from about a week later when I moved them into the bathroom and the light was better. But compare them to the Fantastic Four you know now.

There is a reason why this time with these kittens is very, very special. Briefly, this was an era when I was still grieving one very recent loss, and five losses in total; I had had their half-sister Lucy put to sleep for FIP on July 10, 2007, just a month earlier, and in 2006 had lost my four oldest cats, Moses, Cream, Sophie and Stanley. Before Mimi joined us with her babies, my household had suddenly gone from nine cats to four and as hard as Cookie, Kelly, Namir and Peaches worked I would say I was in shock as well as grief. But having this little pile of kittens at my disposal to hold and hug and kiss and photograph and love, as well as their mom, the gentle, understanding Mimi, helped to change that for me. I spoke about this on Pet Memorial Sunday last year, glad to share it with others deeply grieving their loss.

But this is where we all began, four demanding little black fuzzballs on the work table in my studio!

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Unless I have linked the photo to something else, which is rare with daily photos, you can click the photo to see a larger version. I save them at 1000 pixels maximum dimension, and at that size the photos are nearly twice the dimension and you can see more detail in many of the photos I post. Please remember if you download or share, my name and the link back to the original photo should always appear with it.

To see more daily photos go to “Daily Images” in the menu and choose “All Photos” or any other category.

All images used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used without my written permission. Please ask if you are interested in purchasing one as a print, or to use in a print or internet publication.


Pink Rose Window Kitty

gray cat on windowsill with pink roses

Pink Rose Window Kitty, from my neighborhood.

Window Kitty!

I often see kitties in windows as I pass houses in my neighborhood on foot, on bicycle or in my car (am I a distracted driver? at least I pull over before I take the photo!).

I have to catch up on posting these photos, like this lovely solid gray kitty from last fall, keeping watch in the big picture window on the porch reflecting the fading pink roses by the railing, classic Venetian blind behind her.

I posted this on my Facebook page a few weeks back without realizing readers here might not find it there. Enjoy!

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All images and text used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used in any way without my written permission. Please ask if you are interested in purchasing one as a print, or to use in a print or internet publication.


Daily Sketch: Mewsette is Sneaky

pencil sketch of cat

Mewsette is Sneaking, pencil © B.E. Kazmarski

Mewsette is attempting to sneak onto my desk where I have papers to lay out. I have lovingly moved her several times, and she now thinks that if she moves very slowly and stays as flat as she can that I won’t see her.

At least she did this often enough and moved slowly enough for me to sketch her both in action and from memory! I will remember that when I want then to pose.

Now, about that sitting in front of the monitor thing.

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Click here to see other daily sketches, and for a gallery of the ones available for sale, visit my Etsy shop in the “Daily Sketches” section.

All images used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used without my written permission. Please ask if you are interested in purchasing one as a print, or to use in a print or internet publication.


A Situation is Developing

three black cats on steps

Mr. Sunshine is up to no good.

Jelly Bean is thinking, “Someone is watching me.”

Mr. Sunshine is thinking, “Perfect angle.”

Giuseppe is above it all.

I think Mr. Sunshine is getting Bean back for a prior incident.

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Unless I have linked the photo to something else, which is rare with daily photos, you can click the photo to see a larger version. I save them at 1000 pixels maximum dimension, and at that size the photos are nearly twice the dimension and you can see more detail in many of the photos I post. Please remember if you download or share, my name and the link back to the original photo should always appear with it.

To see more daily photos go to “Daily Images” in the menu and choose “All Photos” or any other category.

All images used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used without my written permission. Please ask if you are interested in purchasing one as a print, or to use in a print or internet publication.