Pawsitive thinking

What is your favourite thing about your pet? Physically, I mean. Not their winning personality, or the fact that they like your company, don’t answer back, gaze at you lovingly and laugh at your jokes. Tails are fun, and surprisingly communicative. You can tell a lot from a tail. Ears too, tell all sorts. Alert, chilled, interested, bored, ready to pounce and maim… Whiskers – meh. Not so much. Just glorified facial hair. For me, it is paws. Cat, dog, mouse, gerbil, all good. Not so keen on hooves. They are paws with toenails, really. But soft, furry paws and pads are the best…

So, what do you love about your pet?

Oh, and in case you haven’t seen this clip… (don’t worry about the title)

Such table manners! Can somebody please just give them a second bowl?!

 

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Between a rock and a wet place

That is where I have been – geographically, not figuratively – since before Christmas, staying with family. The ‘rock’ is actually a cliff, directly at the back of the house, and the wet place is the sea, smack dab in front. The cliff interferes rather with phone signals and internet access, but not quite so drastically as leaving your gadgets on the sofa 50 miles away does…. Hence the ’radio silence’ for a while, apart from a few hours where I borrowed a Kindle. Actually it was quite good to have an enforced severance – it did make me realise just how much I use the internet (an alarming amount, if I am honest), and that it is possible to survive without it.

Still, I am back now and whilst unlikely to make it through every blog post I missed, I will try to catch up a bit over the next few days. I also needed (it appears I need to craft regularly!) to rustle up a quick Happy New Year card, for all my lovely blogging chums, or indeed anyone who comes across it, really! This is very simple – just die cutting the champagne bottles, making a layer to go behind each bottle and then die cutting the greeting. Done in less time than it takes to eat the last mince pie. Well, if you keep stopping to make a card, that is!

 

happy-new-year-card

I may need to address my prioritising in 2017. In the haste to get en route (first train journey with the cat, I was a nervous wreck) to our Christmas venue the technology got left behind, but the elf kitty costume was safely transported to the coast. Go figure. Here is a picture of my sister’s rescue cat Sossage, happily sporting the elf collar. Sossage is a tiny, tiny cat. Not just ‘a bit small’, but really tiny. She is 100% adorable, and seems perfectly happy to be dressed up, and to pose for pictures.

And don’t worry, this is a battery candle, not a real one!!

sossage-with-candle

I think she was less convinced about the hat…

sossage-elf

 

Hope everyone had a great Christmas and I wish you all the best for 2017!

 

3D Thursday: on a Friday. Because thinking can be dangerous.

Yes, I am a day late with this post. May the gods of Blogland forgive me. Apparently there are one or two other things going on at this time of year….

Christmas cards are finally finished (hurrah!!), including some last minute ones for my sister. I was happy to make them for her, until there was another cat-and-die related incident. As I was cutting out 60 individual fairy lights with the smallest die known to man (1cm x 1.5cm, and a tiny part of a much larger set) I randomly thought ’How awful would it be if I lost this die? I wonder do craft companies ever let you buy replacements for individual dies? If not, they really should….’. Then the cat decided to jump up on my desk, at the opposite end to where I was working. Normally this is fine, but this one time he got the maths wrong and launched himself and several small ink pads I was using onto the floor. In my haste to make sure no inks opened and stained the carpet, and that the cat was ok (only his dignity was ruffled) somehow I lost the tiny, tiny bulb die. And spent TWO HOURS looking for it. Eventually I found it of course, several feet away from where I had been, in a box of cards that were finished and ready to go. I really should learn to think less, because the consequences can be dire.

So, my schedule was thrown out a bit. But, as I was clearing my workspace up I decided to use some of the card making leftovers to make bottle tags, rather than just throw them away. It is probably a crime against glitter paper to send it straight to recycling without ever being given its moment reflected in the twinkle of a Christmas light.

xmas-bottle-tags-trio

These are the same measurements as I used for the male bottle tags I posted before. So. 6cm wide, 21 cm long (which is the width of A4 card); score at 6cm from the top and die cut or punch a hole in the 6cm square you have made with your fold line. Super simple. I ran a couple of them through an embossing folder and cut a pennant shape at the bottom. Then just chuck on anything you have carefully select your embellishments and sentiments, a bit of the sticky stuff and you have busted some scraps in no time at all.

xmas-bottle-tag-santaxmas-bottle-tag-goldxmas-bottle-tag-reindeer

Cheers! I could do with opening that fizzy stuff right now!

 

S’elf’ish shopping

This is why I need parental controls for internet shopping. In my email I came across a spanking little elf outfit for cats or small dogs. It cost a couple of quid, free p&p and before you could say ‘disgruntled pussycat’ one was in the post.

I am not one to routinely dress the cat, but I had a brief moment of optimism here when I thought I might get some cute pictures for next year’s Christmas cards. Totally forgetting of course that cats will pretty much do what they want, and you can’t easily make them pose for any photo, let alone a shoot in good daylight, on a nice rug or cushion. Throw a bit of fancy dress in there and you are channelling Pollyanna big time. It is definitely more ‘carpe diem’ than Annie Leibovitz.

The outfit arrived on Saturday. It is just a hat and a collar with bells on. So, collar has to go on first or you will knock the hat off. Easy. The elf collar is elasticated and quite loose, so certainly not going to constrict in any way. I know that if you want to do something to a cat (flea it, worm it, medicate it, put it in a costume for you own entertainment) then it is best NOT to give chase, but bide your time. So, Riley (the cat) is dozing on the sofa. I had already let him sniff the hat and collar when they arrived so they were familiar. Pretty much any new item needs to be sniffed. Now I just gently popped the collar over his head. So far, so fancy! Then we went for the hat. I knew that the hat was aspirational (for me) and probably never going to work. I was not wrong. Nor was I quick enough to get a photo of the walking backwards (why do they think that will help?), or the rapid flurry of paws that speedily dislodged the offending headgear.

Maybe I will try the hat again. I will leave it lying around, see if he gets used to it. But I am not going to push it. His dignity must be considered!

I don’t think he liked the collar as such (judge for yourself from the following pictures), but he was ok with it and didn’t try to pull it off or run away. Maybe he just needs some time to earn his stripes!

elf-1elf-ginger-2elf-ninjaelf-2elf-squirrelelf-funnyelf-surrender

Ah well, there’s always next year.

 

Who says cats have expressionless faces?

pet-shaming

Guilty? Sheepish? Penitent? Or smug? This week my Tree Landscape die was stolen overnight. I cannot find it anywhere, but then again it could be literally anywhere. I have found the other items that went missing at the same time: silver ink pad (under a sofa), eraser (under a chair) and marker pen (bottom of the stairs).  I know who did it. The guilty party is currently draped over my left arm, elbow and knee, so I am typing with one hand, have my leg propped up to support his undercarriage and an aching shoulder from holding it in an uncomfortable (for me, super comfy for him) position. Every now and again his head is turned towards me and up, which means ‘scratch between the ears, please’ and of course I oblige.

But, without the die, there is no Christmas. Bah humbug.

 

A proper scientific experiment, with unexpected results

Another Caturday post…

Whilst reading one of my favourite blogs samanthamurdochblog last weekend, apart from adding to my ongoing crystal education, and making me laugh as she always does, Samantha mentioned a self awareness test for animals. It rang a tiny, tiny bell. Somewhere in my brain, behind the Doris Day archive, next to the ‘what is my favourite cake’ index (pretty large), I had tucked away a little snippet of similar information, but, once retrieved, dust blown away and cobwebs removed it just read ‘see if they recognise themselves in a mirror’ without the added and interesting ‘stick something on the cat’ element from Samantha‘s post. And I knew I had previously tried this first version of the test with every single cat I have cared for. With mixed results. No ‘amazing, awesome, this cat is a genius’ results, to be clear. Just mixed from zero reaction to a reflection, to attacking the reflection, to checking around the side of the mirror to find the ‘other’ cat, to running away. So I had fairly low expectations with the current incumbent of the pussycat-in-residence role, Riley. But, you never know, right? Why not try the newer version of the test and see what happens!

So here is the (very) scientific experiment.

Apparatus:

One cat

One bit of not-too-sticky sticky stuff. I am a crafter, so plenty of low tack masking tape on hand. I felted it a few times just to be sure it was barely sticky at all.

One mirror

 

Method:

The googled version of the experiment I found said the animal should be sedated first. Obviously this is not going to happen. I opted for a a catnip treat as a suitable safe alternative. For the cat, of course. I had a glass of wine, to be sociable. Human catnip.

Affix the barely-sticky sticky thing to a part of the body the subject (Riley) cannot see. This took longer than expected. Cats can swivel their head A LOT. I stuck it on his back – saw it. On his shoulder – saw it. Back of his ear – fell off. My care to make sure the sticky stuff was not too sticky was backfiring somewhat. Top of the head – he saw it coming and just threw his head back so again it fell off. About five times. This calls for a bit of sleight of hand: make an interesting diversion with one hand (pretending to be a spider) whilst positioning with the other. Houston, we have contact!

Results:

Now as I wanted to capture the moment my dear pet proved he was indeed self aware, I needed to take pictures, whilst holding the mirror. Really this was a two-person job, but there was only one person around at the time. So I tried holding both bits of kit and took quite a lot of pictures of my knee, the carpet, the corner of the sofa and the ceiling before giving up on the photo shoot and just showing him the bleeping mirror. An instant reaction! Ears pricked and forward, whiskers perked and….and…and nothing. He was reacting to the spot of bright light created by the mirror. Or ‘Tinkerbells’ as we call it, courtesy of my brother-in-law. Once the Tinkerbell disappeared he settled back down, sticky stuff still in place.

But, here’s where it becomes truly great science. Does everyone know the story about Viagra? How it was developed as a drug for cardiac problems but in the clinical trials, where each tester records in great detail all the side effects they have noticed…well, that’s when the target market was changed. It’s the testing you see, where you make great discoveries. And this is what we found out…

Felting (sticking on your clothes a few times to make it even less tacky) a small, normally super-light strip of low tack masking tape, changes the density, or atomic weight, or something science-y anyway, as my pictures clearly and irrefutably demonstrate…

sticky-riley-1sticky-riley-catnipsticky-riley-3sticky-riley-4

After the last photo the sticky paper fell off and he jumped up, right as rain. Clearly it is kryptonite for cats. No doubt the Nobel Prize will be in the post.

 

 

 

 

Please, don’t eat the daisies!

The title of a Doris Day film. Also, a sentence oft spoken in our home this week, in a slightly different way. As in no ‘please’ and no ‘daisies’. More like ‘Stop eating the flowers!’ or just ‘stopitstopitstopit’ whilst wresting the paper pulp from the cat’s jaws. Don’t get me wrong, it is nice that he involves himself with my hobby, but eating the hobby is not the way to go.

daisy-eating-riley

This is a WIP. My sister made some bare naked Christmas baubles (UK English) or ornaments (USA English. Hmmn, don’t know where Canada sits on this one?) to decorate. We thought it would be fun, given we both have quite large and very different stashes and quite divergent crafty leanings. I collected my orbs a few weeks ago but haven’t done much so far. I know I need to be more Christmas orientated but I think that is where I fall down. I really cannot get in the festive mood this early. But I had a naked ornament to decorate. Fun, right? I have never done this before. The base is a kid’s plastic ball, a wire hanger added and then covered in a textured papier mache layer.

Now to get going! I’m not certain where this particular bauble or ornament will end up, but it is a start. So with the ’not yet’ feeling in mind I deliberately travelled the ‘not Christmas’ road with my first effort, and started by punching many, many paper flowers to cover it with. In fact each flower you can see is two layers, offset a bit. I am not sure how many it took. I started making a circle around the middle, which took 16 whole ‘flowers’ for a bauble measuring about 6-7cm diameter. I had hoped I would just eyeball it and get a beautiful encirclement to meet up in the middle, without actually mapping or drawing it out. Fail to plan, plan to fail, came to mind as my circle was so ‘off’ by the time I had made it around the circumference once that one end was clearly heading north without a backward glance. To visit Santa, presumably. But actually it didn’t matter. Maybe I was lucky, but I just kept going and managed to cover it all without any odd gaps or some being more closely squashed together than others.

flower-bauble-1

I think I am going to finish it off with a gentle dusting of glitter and some pearls here and there. I may also cover the wire with ribbon or tissue paper. If anyone has any good ideas feel free to stick them in a comment – I have plenty more baubles!

Supplies (possibly the shortest list ever): a Martha Stewart punch. It hasn’t got a name on it and I bought it so long ago I can’t remember!

 

 

 

 

One of us has got a new toy

I thought it was me, but now I am not so sure. You know how it is. You get your new toy out and the cat immediately takes possession of the box.

riley-cricut

That is what I thought happened when my Cricut Explore arrived this week, but then I remembered….

The pc (one of the earlier touch screen models) is now a bit old and starting to creak at the seams. When it was box fresh it had us baffled for a while. You would walk into the room and see your taskbar had mysteriously moved to the side of the screen, or been hidden, a different program was now running, or everything was in a font size big enough to be seen from space. For a day or two it looked like it was going to be returned as faulty. Then the culprit was found. Caught in the act.

riley-solitaire

He had a fascination for the thing, and kept batting at the screen with his paws or swooshing it with his tail, causing all sorts of mayhem then wandering off so you had no idea he had done it. It almost became like a scene from ‘Cats and Dogs’.

So maybe he thinks the Cricut is for him, and I am going to be left with the box. I better go stake my claim and make something pretty quick….

 

The great gift wrap search

bow

Today, walking into the living room, I found this, thoughtfully positioned in the middle of the floor. Have the gift-wrap elves paid an early visit? Perhaps we have unwittingly been signed up as a training site for Santa’s little helpers? If so, I think they need to polish up their skills a bit. One stick-on bow does not a present make. Especially as it now is a rather hairy bow, with a bit of carpet fluff attached.

The bow was not a welcome sight. It means the addict has fallen off the wagon. Not that he chose to get on the wagon, so to speak, it was imposed on him, for his own good. I thought that every bit of temptation had been either disposed of permanently or was safely hidden inside a bag, inside a box, in a cupboard. I went to check, and yes, still all untouched and accounted for. Like any good addict, he must have a secret stash somewhere so I had to investigate. After a thorough search I am none the wiser. Hopefully this was his last fix.

My name is Riley and I like to chew curling ribbon. And bows. And tinsel.

tinsel riley

 

 

Another Caturday Post

Moby

This little furball was my first cat. I had lived with others, but he was the first one that was truly my own. Ferocious, huh?

He was called Moby and he was challenged: he had a twitchy leg from birth, which was resolved but might have meant he would possibly be difficult to home or may not have even been given the chance if I hadn‘t taken him. He became allergic to fleas, or flea poo, but also allergic to the available flea prevention treatments (yep, really), which meant he shed his fur in patches, so his beauty was somewhat impaired. But he was adorable, whatever.

He liked to play with water: a big bowl filled with soapy suds (also liked the bubbles) and a bobbing plastic bottle top or two would keep him amused for ages as a kitten. I have to confess, having realised this, I bought him a set of rubber ducks, which he happily played with….

He was intended to be an indoor cat. I had no experience of this, but had been told it was perfectly reasonable. Within a short time it became clear that, for Moby, it was not acceptable at all, and he needed outdoor access. Given the layout of my home, it didn’t seem it would be possible to do this safely.

Some background here, which you need for later. I lived in the top half of a Victorian house which had been divided in two. For those who don’t know UK architecture, this means large-ish rooms (by UK standards, probably nobody else’s!) and high ceilings (again, probably same caveat!), plus two extra floor levels, making the building overall much taller than a modern house. I had no way to let him out other than onto the street, which I didn’t want to do, and no obvious place for a cat flap.

I started taking him out the front and around the side of the house, through the garden of the downstairs flat and into mine whenever I could. It was OK, but less than ideal. Then one day whilst gardening with him watching, my sister suggested I go inside and call him from the house, which I did. Moby looked up, did the planning and the maths (you can see your cat doing this, right?) and worked out his route from the back garden to the kitchen window. Brilliant! Except I couldn’t leave the window open for him all day, could I? So my wonderful, wonderful dad with his equally wonderful trusty assistant (mum) arrived one weekend with a couple of bits of wood and a bag of tools. When they left I had a rebuilt kitchen window with a one-of-a-kind ‘floating’ cat flap entry. Floating because dad also had to build a landing pad and attach it to the outside wall at the corner to access the cat flap.

(cue Mission Impossible music….)

So, the route was – jump onto wall dividing my garden from my neighbour next door. Follow wall until you come to neighbour’s conservatory. Hop onto this and climb to the top and back. Jump onto neighbour’s roof at the two-storey level and climb to the top and back. Now jump over where the roofs meet (it has upright tiles with a patterned top so is irregular and can‘t just be climbed over) and scramble down a few feet, across a few feet, and hop onto a lower narrow window ledge. Now execute a precise jump onto a 15 x 15” platform which looks like it is floating in mid-air, making sure you don‘t overshoot or you are flying across the garden path, about 40 feet in the air and no hope of a safe landing. Make a sharp left turn and through the cat flap. You are now on the kitchen worktop and know that this is only allowed for entry and exit purposes. No wandering off track or meandering about. Head in a straight line and jump down immediately please. It was pretty impressive, and it worked well and made him a happy cat.

Unfortunately though Moby loved to hunt. So now imagine him scaling the above obstacles to entry with a mouse in his mouth. Umpteen times. The mice were always unharmed, so our mouse-catching skills got pretty good too. Maybe he just thought we needed the training….

One day I nearly lost my sense of humour over his predatory habits. Getting up to go to work I walked into the living room and switched the TV on to check the news. I seemed to have gained an ornament overnight. Eyeing me from the top of the TV was an undamaged very large, very grumpy blackbird. Probably about half the size of Moby. How on earth had he managed that route with that bird in tow?

Have you every tried to catch a blackbird? Or shepherd it off the premises via the window? Oh, and guess what, high ceilings are really, really useful for birds trying to evade ‘capture’…

Have you ever had to tell your boss that the reason you are late for work is that you were trying to catch a blackbird in your living room? It’s a difficult sell, I can tell you!