24 February 2017

Feline Friday: Twins?

These girls could be twins...or they might possibly be the same kitty! Ribbon and zucchini noodles are fascinating! **

** Disclaimer for anyone concerned about hygiene (and that would include me!): I've been assured that the kitty did not touch the noodles and that the noodles were cooked on high heat prior to consumption by Cat Mama. Noodle Inspection is not a regular occurrence. :)

17 February 2017

Feline Friday: Homemade Puzzles for Cats

My daughter sent me a link to an article with some fun homemade food puzzles for cats. If you're like me and have a kitty that gobbles her food, or if you're simply looking to add some mental stimulation to Kitty's day, then you'll find some great ideas HERE. Many of the puzzles can be made with items you may already have or would otherwise throw away.

Bailey tried the ice cube tray idea first. This one couldn't be easier! :) Little Rory thought about it for a bit, then went straight to it!

 So Lily and I tried it, too. The ice cube tray slows her down a bit.

Still, she's quite speedy at scooping out those tasty morsels. 

 I'm going to have to look into more complicated puzzles to make her really work for her food! :)

Thanks to Bailey for sharing this fun link!

11 February 2017

State of the Violets - and One Aloe Vera

 My Great Succulent Experiment continues...with mixed results. I've recently lost one aloe vera and the larger one isn't far behind. The other succulents are in various stages of demise, although not quite this bad.

I won't be buying any more of these lovelies because it turns out that aloe vera plants are POISONOUS TO CATS. So I've had to place them high out of reach -- perhaps they're not getting enough (any) sun there. *sigh* 
My violets, on the other hand, are doing well! After spending a few weeks during the holiday season in a different room where they had to adjust to less sunlight, they're all still living. Now that they're back in the dining room, they'll start to bloom again.

 I thought I would share a couple of tips for watering violets. If you've never grown violets, you may not know that they don't like to get water on their leaves. (I have no idea how this works if you're a violet living in the wild! Maybe they have tiny umbrellas?)

Violet leaves should be nice and sturdy, not limp. A violet with limp leaves is a thirsty violet! I've found that watering my violets once a week is the right frequency. I put a reminder in my phone so that I don't forget. 

Anyway, violets in captivity must be watered from the bottom up, so keep them in a pot with holes at the bottom. Three of my four violets are in the lightweight pots they came in. Eventually they'll be transferred to larger pots with holes.

 I bought terra cotta pots to transfer them to, but then I found out that terra cotta can promote mold and other diseases. So rather than transplanting the violets, I just place the plastic pot inside the terra cotta one. It looks a little nicer than the grocery store pot!

When watering my violets each week, I put a little water in a small bowl and add a few drops of violet food. I think you're supposed to mix up the food in water but I've found that adding drops directly to the water works just fine.

 Set the plant down in the water bowl, taking care that the leaves don't touch the water. After 30 minutes or so, all the water should be gone -- soaked up into the dirt. If you check it after 15 minutes and the water is already gone, go ahead and add more. Violets can get very thirsty, but don't let them sit in water for long. They don't like soggy soil. After watering, the pot should feel heavy but definitely not dripping wet!

 While I'm tending to my violets, I also take time to cut off the dead blooms. This makes the plant look much neater and makes room for new flowers.

My violets sit in a northeast facing window. It's not the ideal location or direction, but they seem to be doing well with the amount of sunlight they receive. Now that I've moved them back to their usual spot, I have no doubt they'll be blooming again in no time!

I'm just glad I'm keeping SOMETHING alive!

10 February 2017

Feline Friday

You've got to pay attention at dinnertime when the Bread Thief is on the loose. If it has butter on it, she's going in! :)

09 February 2017

Recipe: Moroccan Chickpea Salad

If you're looking for a healthful salad, something a little different, I would recommend trying this recipe for Moroccan Chickpea Salad from Clean Eating magazine. I've made this salad when Spouse is out of town (that means more for me!) and just recently tested it out on him. He's not a fan of mint, so I left the mint mostly out of his portion. Even so, Spouse gave this recipe a thumbs up. He suggested that we might add roast chicken to it next time, but we both agree that it's great just the way it is!

 Moroccan Chickpea Salad
Clean Eating - click HERE for a printable recipe and more info

 Whilst making this recipe, I had to take a picture of this beautiful red pepper, surely one of the most perfect specimens I've seen!

  This is how the salad looks before adding the dressing and feta. All kinds of healthiness in there!

 I added the dressing and feta a few hours before dinner so that the flavors had a time to meld a bit.

We had enough salad for the two of us for two full meals. Next time Spouse goes out of town, I'll make this delicious salad again -- just for me! If you try it, let me know!

03 February 2017

Feline Friday

We have two antique dressers in our bedroom. We have two cats who like to jump and have decided that the dressers make a good place to sit. As a result, it's risky to put anything fragile on the dressers because I know that a "hard landing" by either of the kitties will send it flying. 

In an effort to train them not to jump on the dressers, I've had towels or pillows on top for the past several months. My Dresser Protection Program had been working very well...so well that I had even taken the brave step of adding breakable (but not irreplaceable) objects.

So imagine my shock when I walked into the bedroom to this sight:

What the heck? Lily is not a skilled jumper, so I was quite surprised to see her smack dab in the middle of that pillow -- book-ended by breakable objects!

  You could tell this was a new feat as she caught a rare glimpse of herself in the mirror!

Not getteen down, Mom!

Nope, stayeen rite heer!

I know when I'm defeated. So I replaced the breakable objects with safe ones and in very short order, Lily was fast asleep, quite comfortable on the pillow I'd conveniently placed there just for her. Because I'm all about Lily's comfort, you know. :)

 SIGH. So much for decorating the bedroom!

27 January 2017

Feline Friday

 After a long hiatus, Neighbor Kitty stopped by to visit. (Whew! I had been worried about him!) I was gone at the time but remarkably, Spouse took these pictures of him making his presence known at our sliding glass door. Luckily I made it home just in time to chat with the big guy -- Neighbor Kitty, not Spouse! haha
This handsome tuxedo kitty REALLY wants to come inside for a visit. Of course, that's not allowed, but it doesn't keep him from peering in and meowing insistently. He's just the friendliest kitty ever!

 Truth be told, I think he would like to be Neighbor Kitty Boyfriend (through the door, of course), but the girls are having none of it. Lily acts like she can't even see him, which only makes him meow louder. But Tinsel absolutely hates him and will fight him through the glass. Even though he means no harm, Neighbor Kitty's presence is a threat to her turf!
 Sorry, bud...you'll have to look elsewhere for a girlfriend! The two girls in this house are not swayed by your manly charms! :)

26 January 2017

Genealogy Binders: Organization

 After a few evenings of sorting though photos, obituaries, and random family records, I finally got Grandma's genealogy binder in relative (bad pun alert!) order. The binder is HUGE and represents just my dad's father's side of the family. Grandma also researched her own family but I have yet to delve into those materials.

I'm a big believer in getting stuff organized and in this case, it was time very well spent. As I mentioned in my previous post, having a tab for each family member makes all the difference. I used the "extra wide" tabs which extend out beyond the plastic sleeves. Best invention ever! :)

My great grandfather was one of 12 children, so one of the tabs belongs to him. He in turn had seven children (my grandfather being one of them) so that particular section of the binder is the largest. I'm mainly interested in my direct lineage so it's the most important section to me.

I separated Grandpa's section into seven parts, one for him and each of his siblings. I used Post-It notes along the top to create tabs for each one so their information could be organized a little more clearly. In the process of looking through the binder, I learned that Grandpa had two siblings who passed away -- he lost an infant brother and a sister at age 8. I'm sorry I didn't know more about his family while he was alive.

   I found a very handy document in Grandma's binder called a Descendancy Chart. I wish I'd known about this chart years ago! It would have helped me figure out who was who around our town and how people were related to me, something that has perplexed me throughout my life. This chart lists the patriarch of the family as "1", his children as "2", their offspring (and spouses) as "3", etc. I wish I'd found this chart earlier in my organization process because it makes it much easier to file information when you can quickly scan for a name!

I made a separate binder for the correspondence Grandma had with far-flung family members. One relative has done quite a bit of research and provided a chart which takes my great great grandma's family line back a generation to Prussia. So I now have the name and basic information about my great great great grandma and her parents.

I even found a map of where she lived! I'm anxious to connect with this gentleman on Ancestry.com and see what else has been learned. Discovering my "roots" is what interests me the most in this process.

This photo of my great great grandfather is likely the oldest one I have for this side of the family. For now, I've just tucked these photos into temporary sleeves. Obviously the newspaper articles will need to be copied as well for preservation purposes.

Although when I started this project my intent was to make some heritage scrapbooks, I'm so happy I took the time to organize Grandma's genealogy binders first. I can easily draw from this information to create meaningful scrapbooks. In the process of organizing Grandma's information, I've re-affirmed my interest in learning my family's history. I will be a good steward of Grandma's records, and I know that would make her very happy!


24 January 2017

New Project: Heritage & Genealogy Albums

 My great grandpa Peter Paul Gulling and my great grandma Emma (Trader) Gulling

I've decided that 2017 is the year to get some important projects done. Like many of my friends, I have LOTS of scrapbooking to do but at this time I especially want to focus on heritage albums, a new endeavor for me. I've actually been doing some prep for this project since I brought home boxes and boxes of photos from my parents' and grandparents' houses a few years back. But now is the time to get those photos out of the boxes and into albums that can be enjoyed!

I have already sorted my heritage photos into boxes for each side of the family/family member (click HERE for that project). 

  Tubs of photos, organized in folders

  I have also created "life binders" for important documents related to my grandparents (diplomas, birth certificates, etc.) - click HERE for a post about that. I also have a box of very old snapshots from my dad's side of the family that will eventually make their way into the albums.

Life binders for my grandparents

I gathered all of that stuff together to start planning this first heritage scrapbook. My plan has always been to transfer those "raw materials" into scrapbooks and as I looked through everything, I could see that the prep I've done is going to make that task much easier. 

I decided to start by organizing the heritage album(s) into sections -- one for my paternal grandpa's family, one for my grandma's family, and a final section for their married life. I sorted the main photos into those three piles then slipped them into temporary sleeves in a scrapbook, separating the sections with dividers.

As soon as I started, I could see that I was going to need more information to create this album -- I'm terrible with names and dates! Thank goodness my late grandma came to the rescue for me -- I knew that her genealogy albums would have all the information I need. But I soon discovered that my heritage album project just got a whole lot bigger! :)

My grandma, who passed away at age 102, was the keeper of family history. Over the years, she had compiled genealogy binders with meticulously handwritten details for both sides of my dad's family. Grandma and I talked about her genealogy records often and since she knew I was interested in the subject, she told me I could have all of her binders when she died. Of all the gifts she could have given me, this one is absolutely the most precious.

But in later years, Grandma hadn't kept up with filing her genealogy information. In retrospect, I should have helped her get it organized while she was still alive. There were letters from far-flung relatives and newspaper clippings which hadn't made it into her system. Pages had fallen out of her binders and family information was mixed up. Her pages were not numbered and I couldn't figure out her system. I could see that I would have to get her binders into at least some semblance of order before I could create this scrapbook.

 As I tried to decipher the way she had organized her binders, I began digging through her boxes of genealogy records. There I discovered a very old family history notebook compiled in 1939. It was falling apart but the pages were numbered, making it easy to re-assemble. I suddenly realized that Grandma had copied that notebook and used it as the "structure" for her genealogy binders! Each family has its own series of pages, and Grandma added details to those pages through her clippings, photos, and other documents to fill out each family's history.

The most important page of the book is this one, which lists my great great grandparents' 12 children. Each child has a set of pages detailing marriages, offspring, and deaths. This was the key to Grandma's system: Her binder pages were to go in this order. YIPPEE!
Since this is my "master" list, it's going to be handled a lot while I work on this project so I need to keep those pages safe. I put them in protective sleeves and clipped them into a sturdy binder.

When I first brought Grandma's binders home, I attended a genealogy class and asked how to organize her information. The instructor suggested using extra-wide divider tabs for each family. At that time, I didn't even know if I could get that far, but as soon as I discovered the master book, I could see my way through the forest! I created a separate tab for each of the 12 children in my great great grandparents' family, my great grandfather being one of them.

 I matched up Grandma's information to the master book and started assembling her "new" genealogy album. The tabs make all the difference! Now it's super easy to locate information by sibling.

 Grandma's binder contains many, many clippings which eventually should be copied onto acid-free paper. But for now I'll settle for getting them in the proper order.

In going through these binders, I found all sorts of very cool stuff, such as my great grandparents' marriage certificate, my grandma's diploma, and copies of my great great grandfather's military enlistment papers. For someone who is interested in family history, Grandma's binders are a real treasure. I am absolutely thrilled to have them...especially now that I can make sense of them! :)

Grandma's research was all done the old fashioned way so I will use online resources to add detail to her family records. It appears that we have many extended family members who have done research so it's just a matter of tapping into that information.

 So my plan is to incorporate pieces of grandma's genealogy binders into my heritage scrapbooks. A good example is this family tree which traces my grandpa's family back to the 1600's in France. When I was studying in France during college, my parents came to visit and I took them to a cemetery where some of our relatives are buried. I have photos from that cemetery visit which will be a nice addition to the album.

So stay tuned for more on what promises to be a fun project! Now that I have my reference materials more organized, I can start this heritage scrapbook with confidence. At the same time, I have so much to learn that I feel like I'm on a voyage of discovery. I'm excited to get started!

20 January 2017

Feline Friday

 One morning this week, Lily gulped down her breakfast. I could tell by the look on her face that the meal wasn't going to end well, so I confined her to the laundry room -- away from carpet. 

Suffice it to say I was correct. A little while later, I opened the door to assess the damage and saw that it was ugly. So ugly, in fact, that Lily had jumped up on the counter to get away from it. :)

Just look at that face. 
The picture of innocence...NOT!

  But I knew the real reason Lily was up on the counter. After ever "URP" moment, Lily seeks out fabric to lick. It must provide a bit of comfort to settle her tummy. Usually she licks one of her blankies. This time, with her blankie unavailable, she chose the laundry that was hanging above the sink. 

Lucky Spouse! Lily chose his shirts to lick!
(Needless to say, those shirts were immediately re-laundered!)

13 January 2017

Feline Friday: Yoga with Rory

 In honor of my daughter's birthday today, it seems fitting that this Feline Friday post should feature Rory the Yoga Cat.

Bailey was recording a recent yoga practice when Rory discovered her phone perched on the couch. Hilarity ensues. :)


Love these girls! :)