Happy November everyone! It’s hard to believe we’re already halfway through autumn, and the month of Thanksgiving (and Gilmore Girls!) is upon us. Before you know it, it will be Christmas which I can’t wait for, because it means P will have two weeks off of work and my sister will be home from college. December also happens to be Bisou’s birthday month! Needless to say, I’m very much looking forward to the next several weeks. For now though, I’m still making the most of fall – even if it is an extra gray and rainy one in Portland – before all the leaves fall and it’s too cold out to go on strolls around the neighborhood. Speaking of leaves, how about this laurel wreath? The leaves aren’t technically from a laurel bush, but once they’re layered into wreath form, they look pretty darn festive anyway. Don’t you love how the wreath looks like it’s magically floating on the front door!?
I’m not usually one for seasonal decorating; I think it’s because I don’t like the idea of storing a bunch of objects that only see the light of day a month or two out of the year. I’m happy to make an exception for this wreath though, since it’s seasonally appropriate for fall and winter, and afterwards I don’t have to worry about finding a place to store it. All you need to make your own wreath is a bit of floral wire, hot glue, fishing line and any thick, glossy leaves you can find. I couldn’t decide whether to make a natural green wreath or a fancy gold one so I tried it both ways, and I still can’t choose a favorite. Either way, hanging a laurel wreath on your front door or somewhere in the house adds some natural looking autumnal vibes and holiday cheer, depending on the month. It complements our pumpkins now, and I really hope we get some snowfall this winter so I get to see it in the snow, too. Read on for the tutorial, and a look at Bisou wondering what the heck I was doing standing outside. Continue Reading
If you follow Bisou and me on Instagram, you’ve likely noticed Bisou has one unusual feature for a house cat. The tip of her right ear is missing, and though some have guessed she lost it in a cat fight, the truth is a little less exciting but meaningful nevertheless. You see, Bisou was a feral cat before I met her. Her tipped ear tells us that while she was spayed and vaccinated as part of a trap, neuter, return (TNR) program. TNR is just what it sounds like; feral and stray cats are humanely trapped, taken to a veterinary clinic where they are spayed or neutered and given immunizations, then released back into their colonies. Their right ears are tipped to indicate they’ve been through a TNR program. It’s a humane way to reduce the size of feral cat populations, while also improving the health and livelihoods of the cats in our communities who don’t have homes. Without TNR programs that support feral cat colonies and the dedicated volunteers who keep them running, I might never have found and adopted Bisou, so you can bet I’ll be celebrating National Feral Cat Day tomorrow!
Not all feral and stray cats can be adopted. Some have had no human socialization and don’t adapt well to living indoors with people, and in many communities, feral and stray populations are simply larger than the capacity of shelters to accommodate them. The good news is that there’s still a lot we can do to improve the lives of ferals and strays. You can learn to care for the feral cats in your neighborhood, donate to TNR programs and spread the word about TNR and free neuter-spay clinics in your area. Alley Cat Allies is a great resource for feral cat info, whether you’d just like to learn more about feral cats or you’re ready to start advocating for cats in your community. I’m sharing my love for feral cats (and my feral cat momma pride!) with this I ♥︎ Feral Cats tote. All you need to make it is some iron on transfer paper, a light colored tote or t-shirt and an inkjet printer. Just download the template I made so we can be tote twins and you, too, can start showing off your feral cat love! Read on for directions and the download. Continue Reading
When P and I moved into our new place early this past summer, we couldn’t have been more thrilled; after a string of crummy apartments, a duplex my grandpa built for his mother and mother in law (i.e. my Chinese great grandmas) in the 1960s became available, and we jumped at the opportunity to live in one of the units. Our previous apartment was under 500 square feet, dark all day and had paper thin walls, meaning we heard everything our neighbors were up to around the clock, so saying goodbye to that place was easy. Moving into our duplex meant twice the space of our old apartment, including some miraculous finds in Portland’s competitive rental market like our very own laundry room (!) and cozy backyard.
The fact that my great grandma once lived here makes our new home feel all the more special. I feel connected to a member of my family I’ve only heard stories of, and as I cook in her kitchen and garden in her yard I like to imagine her life here. Of course, moving house also means encountering some surprises along the way. A few of those discoveries have been exciting and meaningful; for instance, while tilling the long-neglected soil of our new garden, I discovered a patch of mung beans that had re-seeded themselves and survived over three decades since my grandma raised Chinese herbs and vegetables in the garden. Discovering the flying carpenter ants shredding our wood beamed ceiling and the cat urine-soaked cabinets damaged by the previous tenant? Those were less thrilling surprises to say the least.
We also noticed upon moving in that the kitchen doesn’t have an overhead light source. We put some nails into a beam and strung a $10 IKEA cord set that we’d once used as a bedside light as a temporary measure, and intended to replace it as soon as all our boxes were unpacked. While the clunky white plastic and zig zag fabric of the cord set were fine in our very first apartment, it didn’t fit the look of this more grown up rental. After searching for a permanent solution though, we realized there wasn’t much we could do short of opening up the ceiling and embarking on electrical projects that are more homeowner than renter territory, and decided we’d be happy with the cord set if it were dressed up a little.
I’d wanted to incorporate some copper into the kitchen, thinking it would complement our honey-colored cabinets and white counters, but have resisted most of the copper utensils I’ve seen knowing that the paint will wear off eventually, and potentially get into our food. I don’t have those concerns with a copper pendant light, and having a small metallic accent warms up the look of the kitchen. Obviously, copper > white plastic in any situation! I thought about spraying the cord itself white, but ended up wrapping it in inexpensive off-white cord from the hardware store, which gives it a nicer texture and softer look than paint. The whole project took just a couple hours hands-on time and resulted in a lovely pendant light that’s a thrifty way to incorporate some trends into our home, while also fitting right into our vintage kitchen. Hit the “read more” button for the how to! Continue Reading
I’ve been looking forward to sharing this knit cat bed with you since I launched Crafts and a Cat two months ago; it was one of the very first cat-related DIY projects I came up with after Bisou was adopted. I always get questions about how to make it when I post a picture of the original bed on Instagram, so I thought now would be the perfect time to revisit it with a brand new gold leaf bed! Say you don’t know how to knit (yet), or you’re more of a dog person. Keep reading! This bed is so easy to make I promise any knitting novice can pull it off. Plus, it’s easy to make it a bit bigger or smaller, so you can customize it for a small dog or any other fur baby you live with. I’m sure there are more elaborate ways to knit a cat bed out there, but I like this method because it’s straightforward, simple and you don’t have to be an expert knitter to make it look great.
This pattern employs just one stitch – the most basic of them all, the humble garter stitch – and is knit on straight needles. In other words, it’s a large scale version of everyone’s first knitting project, the rectangle. Except this one is given dimension and purpose when you attach the ends and cinch the whole thing into a circle, making a soft and cozy cat bed! If you’ve never knit before, try searching YouTube for a video on how to cast on and knit a garter stitch. If you can figure out how to do those two things, you can knit this bed. This project is made even easier by using a bulky yarn and big needles that are easy to handle. Speaking of yarn! I wanted the bed to be plush and super comfortable for Bisou, but didn’t want to spend a whole paycheck on super fancy thick yarn. Instead, I used a technique called plying, which is simply casting on with multiple strands of yarn and knitting as though they were a single strand. The result is a bulkier, heavier knit at a fraction of the cost of luxury yarn. Keep reading for a detailed how-to; your cat (or dog) will thank you! Continue Reading
Wow, what a week! Since my last post, we’ve had a flying carpenter ant invasion, three 100º days that ended in a trip to the vet for Bisou (she’s okay now), and P has gone back to work to prepare for the coming school year. I’m someone who operates best on a routine, so when my usual day to day is thrown up in the air, I end up with a bit of nervous energy on my hands. Instead of cycling through worries and to-do’s, I’ve been trying to slow down, focus on the things I can change and carve out time for enjoyable activities. That last part is by far the hardest, but instead of looking at relaxation time as time I could have used to whittle away at my to-do list, I treat it as time purposefully spent recharging, leading to more productivity and focus later on. And that’s an awfully good reason to make leisure time a point.
This weekend, relaxation took the form of making these adorable, catnip-filled felt toys. When you use a template to trace the cutouts (you can print the templates I made for this project!), it’s actually very easy to put them together. They’re made of inexpensive felt and each have velcro closures that allow you to refill them with fresh catnip. Did you know iron on velcro is a thing? I just found out about it, and it makes this project that much simpler. The toys are stuffed with organic catnip from Tabby James, which I highly recommend because this stuff is seriously strong. Bisou could smell it through the glass jar and the box it came in, and went into full freak out mode as soon as I gave her the toys. The lovely folks at Tabby James are giving away their catnip gift set to 3 of you, readers! So read on for the tutorial and your chance to win some tasty catnip to get you started on your very own toys. Continue Reading