Friday, June 27, 2014

Spoiled Kitties?

When the motor in the water fountain gave out again about a month ago, I decided it was finally time to invest in a new cat fountain. I've been wanting something different ever since I saw the beautiful new ceramic cat fountains over on the hauspanther blog. There are also beautiful ceramic fountains on Etsy, and a few different models that are sold in Europe. Matt and I looked over our choices, and agreed on the Drinkwell Pagoda Fountain. We've had it now for about a week or two, and the kitties really seem to enjoy it. I haven't pulled it apart to clean yet, but putting it together was pretty easy, and I don't think it will be difficult to clean. We will have to fill it more often, because it doesn't have the reservoir that our last fountain had, but that's not a big deal. I'm just hoping it doesn't get clogged with cat hair as bad as the other one did!

There is one problem that I haven't addressed yet. Lela really likes to splash water out of fountains, she has done it since her first fountain as a way to show her anger. She has been making messes with this fountain every few days, and it seems to be a lot easier for her than the last fountain. They recommend placing the fountain on a mat, but in the past she has drained enough water to fill the mat and spill over onto the floor. So I'm thinking some kind of tall-sided container, which of course will diminish the beauty of the fountain, but will hopefully prevent the lakes she's been forming on the floor. In fact, as I wrote this she was draining her fountain. I don't know how she does it...might need to set up a hidden camera to catch her at it....

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

How-Tuesday: Crocheted Cat Toy!

So I'm not really going to teach you how to crochet. Sorry for the misleading title! For starters, I barely know how to crochet, I'm self taught from several books. That's how I know that there are really great resources out there for you if you do want to learn how to crochet. I'm partial to Stitch 'n Bitch Crochet, The Happy Hooker, because she has pretty color images to help you understand all the loops and stitches and stuff.

One thing I do know how to do though, is make a cat toy. For years I have been making ball and string toys, like this:

Lela with a ball and string toy
They are wonderful, and really stand the test of time (I still have the original from 2007, and though the kitties really prefer the new ball and string toys that aren't theirs, they will occasionally bat the old one around too. Catnip spray doesn't hurt either.) but they hurt to make. You see, in order to make a knit ball sturdy enough that a cat can't claw it open in minutes, you have to knit a really thick fabric. Or felt it. Since I make these toys from cotton, felting is out of the question, so knitting a thick fabric becomes the only choice. Unfortunately, knitting a thick fabric that curves into a ball shape isn't really all that easy, and when you already have carpal tunnel, it becomes nearly impossible. I've been exploring different options over that last few years because I don't want to stop making these toys. This summer I finally tried the option I've been avoiding the most: crochet. Crochet is naturally of a thicker and sturdier construction than knitting, perfect for cat toys. I found a great pattern online for a sphere (google it - there's a lady who wrote up patterns for mathematically perfect spheres, pretty sweet) and came up with this:

Now, once I made the ball and string toys I thought, "These would be great just as balls too! And Matt has been badgering me to make a toy that he can use to teach Norman fetch...a smaller version of this is exactly what he's been wanting...." So, I fiddled around a bit more, made some small balls, and a few of these:

But of course, Etsy dashed my hopes of being original. There are at least 14 pages of cat toy balls made of cotton, and stuffed with polyfil and catnip. They range in price from $holy-cow-that's-low-how-are-you-making-a-profit?? to $wow-that's-a-lot-for-one-toy! So, I figured I would need to stand out somehow. Another idea that's been rattling around for a while now is to use natural wool fibers for the stuffing, in place of polyfil. But it's so expensive, why would you use perfectly good roving material for stuffing? Well, if you end up with six huge bags of wool still in the grease, and no way to card it, then you have a perfect stuffing material :)

There you have it my friends, how to make a crocheted cat toy. Mull it over for years, finally make it, then test it until it's ready for sale on Etsy. (We are currently in the testing phase, with hopes to move into the selling phase soon.) Good luck in your endeavors :)

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Etsy Weekends - For Outdoor Critters

I really love being in my backyard in the summer, and I wish I could entice more critters to join me (expect for the slithery snake types, they scare the crap out of me!! And I could do without the insects that are eating my plants!) I'm not even sure that we have critters around here that would benefit from the first two, but I have dreams of one day accommodating the third :)  

Toad Abode
Toad Abode from Faulkner Studio
HUMMINGBIRD FEEDER--Pine Leaf Beardtongue
 Hummingbird Feeder from Bird Artist
Chicken Coop Plans from Fresh Eggs Daily

That's all for this week, but we'll be back next week, and we hope you will be too!

Friday, June 20, 2014

Kitties in the Bathroom

Our kitties, Norman and Lela, are pretty strange critters. When it was just Lela, she LOVED bath time! She wanted to be near me, and then near Matt, at every moment of the day, including shower and potty time (which can be a little obnoxious). She would hang out in the sink, or on the toilet lid, and then jump in the tub when we would climb out of the shower. When Norman came around though, he had fleas. We had to give the kitties at least four flea baths. Lela stopped coming in the bathroom with us after that.

Fast forward to the last year, when Norman started joining us in the bathroom. He loves the attention that he gets, and grows upset if we don't pet him enough. Over the last few weeks however, Lela has started joining us in the bathroom again. Now with both kitties in the bathroom, neither is happy with the attention they get, but we think it's adorable. What do you think?

There's just one problem, Norman tends to pee on things Lela loves. Here's hoping he doesn't pee in the bathroom!!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Where has the time gone?

If you follow our blog, you know that I like to post every other day if I can. You also know that I haven't posted anything regularly since April! I'm sure you are curious as to why that is. Well, honestly, the last couple weeks of school were pretty difficult this semester. I started a new job a few weeks before school got out, and I had big projects/papers due in pretty much every one of my six classes. Then, during finals week, I started a second new job. Between stress from grades (I lost my 4.0 this semester, with a B+ in one of my classes) and two jobs, I didn't have time to think, let alone write! I also didn't care if I sat at a computer again anytime soon. I did manage to get some gardening done in between jobs, and even a little knitting!

A few weeks ago, I finally realized that even though I worked two jobs when I was 19 and going to college in Green Bay, and even though I worked two jobs when we first moved to Bozeman four years ago, I don't have the time or the inclination to work two jobs anymore! I didn't have time to myself, or time to spend with my sweet kitties and fiancee family. The garden was suffering, the Etsy shop was suffering, and nothing new was hitting my knitting needles. So, I quit one of the jobs. Now I really need to focus on the Etsy shop to make up for the lost income! ;)

I have come up with a few new toys for the shop, and am working diligently on other new projects that I hope to tell you about in the coming months. But for now, seeing as it is Wednesday, I feel I should share some garden pictures!! Next week I'll talk about how I went a little nuts with the garden this year, and have fears for my sanity regarding next year's garden....

Greenhouse full of Peppers and Melons June 6 2014

Extra Tomatoes June 6 2014

Raised Bed with Tomatoes June 6 2014

Potato Patch and Tomatoes June 6 2014

Backyard Garden June 6 2014